Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Quick Recipe Tip

I bought a package of index cards that I have in my kitchen with a pen. I am always watching cooking shows and if I see a recipe I like I jot it down. I always include the show and channel I saw it on so I can go online and make sure I got the recipe correct.

And when I am experimenting with recipes on my own, and one turns out great I jot that down too so I can recreate it. Especially if my family likes it too.

Another thing I do it to jot down leftover recipes. Meals I make with the leftovers. And if I have a few leftover ideas for one main meal I will choose from them for later in the week. Alternating to keep variety in our meals.

So now when I write out my menu for the week I can pull out the recipes I want to use and clip them together so they are available and makes my week much easier.

Garlic...Yum!

Found these yummy recipes on the Everyday Cheapskate newsletter today and they sound devine! We love, love, love garlic in my house. So I am eager to try these soon. - Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)


Four Fabulous Ways to Prepare
and Enjoy Garlic


To refer to garlic as a "stinking rose" makes me laugh, but it does clearly describe the onion-like bulb that is as delicious as it is healthy. Best of all, it's cheap!

I've tried garlic in just about every form imaginable, including garlic ice cream (it was pretty gross, as you might imagine, which explains why a recipe for it does not follow). However, the recipes that do follow have been tested thoroughly and found to be a notch above awesome, especially the cauliflower. Your kids are going to love it. Just don't tell the picky ones what it is. Enjoy!


Roasted Garlic Dip


3 heads garlic, unpeeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 tablespoon ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 300 F. Cut off the top of the head of garlic to expose the cloves, trimming about 1/4 inch off of the top of each clove. You may need to trim individual cloves along the sides of the head. Brush the cut cloves with a small amount of olive oil. Then, wrap them loosely in a piece of aluminum foil. Bake until the cloves are tender and nicely browned, about 1 hour.

Remove garlic from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cool, squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins into a mixing bowl. Mash well with a wire whisk. Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, green onions, vinegar, salt and pepper. Whisk until evenly blended. Refrigerate 2 to 4 hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve with chips, crudités or pieces of toasted baguette.


Roasted Garlic Soup


4 heads garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 leek, chopped
1 onion, chopped
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup dry sherry
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut 1/4 inch off the top of each garlic head. Place heads in a small, shallow baking dish. Drizzle them with olive oil and bake until golden, about 1 hour. Cool slightly. Press individual garlic cloves between thumb and finger to release from skin, and then chop.

Melt butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, leek, and onion. Sauté until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add flour and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in broth and sherry. Simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly. Puree soup in batches in a blender or food processor. Return soup to saucepan and add cream. Simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add lemon juice to taste. Season with salt and white pepper. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with chives. Servings: 4.


Fantastic Garlic Bread


1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon sage
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 French baguette, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste

Preheat oven to broil. In a medium bowl combine butter, mayonnaise, sage, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Spread mixture evenly on bread and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Place bread under broil for 5 minutes, or until lightly toasted.


Roasted Garlic Cauliflower


2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large head cauliflower, separated into florets
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Grease a large casserole dish. Place the olive oil and garlic in a large, resealable bag. Add cauliflower, and shake to mix. Pour into prepared casserole dish. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Top with Parmesan cheese and parsley, and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown.

©Copyright 2010 Mary Hunt
Everyday Cheapskate is a Registered Trademark

Quick tips: Clever Ways to Save

Here are a few tips I got from the Everyday Cheapskate Newsletter by Mary Hunt. I thought they were pretty clever. I'd love to hear your tips! - Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)

GLORIOUS GARDENING.
I re-use cardboard tubes from things like paper towels and toilet tissue. Cut the tube to a depth of two inches, and place the rings into a plastic saucer or tray. Fit them tightly together and fill with potting mix. Use these to start your vegetables and flowers from seed! You can plant them directly in the ground, cardboard and all, when the seedlings are strong enough and the ground is warm enough. Happy gardening! Angel P., Alabama

SOOTHING SALVE. Sooth a poison ivy rash this way: Make coffee as strong as you can. Add baking soda to make a thick paste. Apply the paste directly on the affected area, wrap it up tight and sleep with the bandage on. In the morning, take the bandage off, cleanse, and repeat if necessary the following evening. Yvonne M., Georgia

JAVA JOLT. In an effort to be green, I reuse my coffee filters. I put them in the bottom of flower pots so the soil does not wash away. I also mix the used coffee grounds in with my potting soil to use as mulch.
Leslee H., California


Monday, April 19, 2010

Lamb Burgers

This recipe I found on the Once Upon A Chef blog looks amazing! I think this will cure my cravings for Gyros. Just have to locate some ground lamb. - Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)

Greek-Style Lamb Burgers

Posted: 18 Apr 2010 07:36 PM PDT

Lamb burgers

If you like Greek food, you'll love these lamb burgers...Warm pitas stuffed with flavorful lamb patties, tzatziki, feta, tomatoes, red onions and shredded lettuce. For me, the flavors conjure up memories of delicious Mediterranean street food from travels past

They're perfect for entertaining – a fun, sophisticated alternative to your standard cookout fare.

You'll need ground lamb for the recipe...your regular grocery store may not carry it but you can always find it at Whole Foods.


Lamb burger 2

In addition to the flavor, the great thing about these burgers is that they're incredibly tender and juicy. The secret? A panade – this is a bread and milk paste that's sometimes mixed into ground meat. You can't taste it but it guarantees perfect burgers every time, especially if you like your meat a little more well-done or if you accidentally overcook them. A little insurance never hurts, especially if you're entertaining :)

So, gather up some friends and invite them over for a Mediterranean-style cookout...

Lamb burger 1

You can do most of the preparation ahead of time and get your guests to help you with the rest.

Warm weather + Greek food on the grill = FUN!

Makes 6 burgers (enough for 3-4 people)

Ingredients

For Lamb Burgers
1 slice white bread, crust removed and cut into ¼” pieces
2 tablespoons milk
¼ cup finely chopped shallots (you’ll need one or two shallots)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ pounds ground lamb (not lean)
6 pita bread rounds (see note below)

Optional Toppings
1 small head iceberg lettuce, shredded
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Tzatziki (get recipe here)

Directions

1. Be sure grill is clean and preheat to high.

2. Combine bread pieces and milk in a medium bowl. Mash with a fork until paste forms. Add shallots, garlic, mint, oregano, salt, pepper and mix well. Add lamb, then use your hand to mix ingredients together until well combined. Do not over mix. Form mixture into 6 oval-shaped patties about ½-inch thick.

3. Grease grill (dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and holding wad with tongs, carefully wipe cooking grate several times). Grill patties, covered, for 4 minutes. Turn, cover again, and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes more. Place burgers on a tray and cover with foil while you warm pita rounds on the grill. Assemble burgers and pass remaining tzatziki alongside.

*There are two types of pita bread: pita pockets and pocketless pitas. You can use either for this recipe. For pita pockets, be sure they are at least 6 inches wide. Trim off the top ¼ of each round and stuff the burgers and toppings inside. For pocketless pitas, serve burgers open-faced or, if pitas are large enough, wrap them around burgers.

*If you're entertaining, lamb patties can be made a day ahead of time. Place them on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil and cover tightly with saran wrap.Tzatziki can be made two days ahead of time.

*For kids, try serving burgers with ketchup.

Quick Tip: Cook Once Eat For The Week

Hi ladies!

Yesterday while out grocery shopping I stopped in a local grocery and picked up some packages of chicken thigh & legs. They were 4 in each package for less that $2. So I picked up 4 packages. 2 I froze and 2 I cooked up.

I was making a Pot Roast, cooking in the oven on low so at the same time I placed the chicken in a pan and drizzled with olive oil and some seasoning (salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic, onion). I also had some left over chicken soup I made on Friday. Not enough for another meal so I put the broth on the bottom of the pan to keep the chicken moist. Put in the oven along side the roast for 2 hours on low. Let me tell you ladies.....it was so tender and juicy and yummy. We ended up eating the chicken for dinner last night and saved the roast for another night during the week. Now I have meals already prepared for another chicken dinner and 2 pot roast meals.

Yeah me! less cooking time this week!

Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)

One Bag of Chicken, Three Meals

As most of you know I am a big fan of variety and making the most out of what you have. We eat A LOT of chicken in my house so I love this next article I found on the Everyday Cheapskate Newsletter by Mary Hunt. I often do this.... make a menu and then shop for the week. When I do I am able to keep my budget in check. When I don't I end up buying things I don't need and nothing goes together enough to make a decent meal. Hope you enjoy this article too. - tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)


One Bag of Chicken, Three Cheap Dinners


By Jane DeLaney, founder of E-Mealz

Sometimes to get through a chaotic week, or to make it a few more days until your paycheck, a simple "mini-menu" is all you need to cover a three-day crunch. Often the temptation is to make a quick run to the grocery store to grab a few things to tide you over. The next thing you know, you've spent $75 and still don't have anything to cook for dinner!

Life can spin out of control very quickly, and it is in those times that money can easily go down the drain. Here's a simple mini-menu to serve six the next time you are in a pinch! Print it out and tuck this emergency plan in your glove compartment. Then, say, "no!" to the pitfall of drive-thru grocery shopping!


E-Mealz Mini-Menu


Do-Ahead Chicken Instructions: Place thawed chicken evenly in a 9" x 13" dish. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes. Finely chop all of the chicken into small pieces. Reserve 1 cup for meal #2. Divide remaining chopped chicken in 2 equal portions to use in meals #1 and #3, approximately 3 cups each.


Meal 1: Cheater's Chicken and Dumplings


3 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth, or 6 cups
1 (10-ounce) can of fat-free cream of celery soup
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 (10-inch) flour tortillas
1 pound (or more) finely chopped cooked chicken, approx. 3 cups

In a soup pot, combine chicken broth, cream of celery soup, poultry seasoning and salt and cook over medium-high heat. Stir until smooth. Stack tortillas on a cutting board. Cut into 2" x 1" strips. Stir strips into broth. Bring to boil. Then, simmer 3 minutes to soften tortillas. Add cooked chicken. Remove from heat to prevent over cooking tortilla strips. Serve immediately. Serves: 6.

Side Dish: Romaine Mandarin Salad
1 heart of Romaine, rinsed and chopped
1 (5-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
Sliced green onion
Italian dressing


Meal 2: Club Quiche


1 (9-inch) deep dish frozen pie shell
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 cup finely chopped cooked chicken
1/3 cup real bacon bits
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
5 medium eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup mayo
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 375 F. Bake crust for 8 minutes. Cool. Sauté onion in butter until tender. Sprinkle breadcrumbs in bottom of crust. Combine sautéed onions, bacon bits, chicken and cheese. Spoon evenly into crust. With mixer, blend eggs, milk, mayo, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Pour into crust. Bake at 375 F for 45 to 55 minutes until quiche is set and knife comes out clean when dipped into the center. Serves: 6.

Side Dishes: Steamed Broccoli and Blueberry Muffins
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen broccoli florets
2 (7-ounce) boxes blueberry muffin mix
Combine muffin mix with: 2 eggs and 1/2 cup milk


Meal 3: BBQ Chicken Cheddar Pita Pizzas


6 pita rounds
1 pound or more finely chopped cooked chicken, approx. 3 cups
1/3 cup real bacon bits
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup sliced green onion

Preheat oven to 400 F. Trim pitas around the edges and separate each into halves, making 12 round halves. Place pitas, inside halves down, on 3 large cookie sheets. Thin barbecue sauce with water for drizzling consistency. Divide toppings evenly over pitas in this order: chicken, bacon, drizzled barbecue sauce, cheese and green onion. Bake 8 to 10 minutes at 400 F, until cheese is melted.

Side Dish: Tossed Salad
1 heart of Romaine, rinsed and chopped
2 chopped hard-boiled eggs
Croutons
Ranch salad dressing


Grocery List


Store: Wal-Mart SuperCenter
Date: February 2010
ITEM PRICE*
PRODUCE
18-ounce package hearts of Romaine, 3 pack, Dandy® 2.78
5-ounce bunch green onions, FreshN'Quick® 1.18
DAIRY
8-ounce package shredded cheddar cheese, GV® 1.96
1 dozen medium eggs, Sunny Meadow® 1.26
MEATS
3-pound bag frozen boneless chicken breasts, GV® 6.48
FROZEN FOODS
1 package deep dish frozen pie shell, GV® 2.18
16-ounce bag broccoli florets, GV® 1.34
PACKAGED / BOXED
12-ounce package flour tortillas, taco size, GV® 1.84
12-ounce package 6"pita rounds, Toufayan® 1.24
2 boxes 7-ounce blueberry muffin mix, Jiffy® 1.06
CANNED / BOTTLED
3 cans 14-ounce chicken broth, GV® 2.31
10-ounce can cream of celery soup, GV® .86
6-ounce can mandarin oranges, GV® .53
18-ounce jar barbecue sauce, GV® 1.08
2.5-ounce package real bacon pieces, GV® 1.46
TOTAL: approx. without tax 27.56

*Prices may vary slightly by location.

©Copyright 2010 Mary Hunt
Everyday Cheapskate is a Registered Trademark

Saturday, April 17, 2010

One Cooking Day and 2 meals

I was watching The Food Network today while cleaning and the show 5 Ingredient Fix with Claire Robinson was on. She made this recipe for Pot Roast, mushroom gravy & parsnip potato mash & and it looked so good I wanted to reach through the screen and eat it! Not only that she used the meal she made to make 2 other recipes. she used the pot roast to make the yummy panini and the parsnip potato mash to make ham & cheese croquettes. I will be making this recipe tomorrow and trying the other 2 later in the week.

Recipe #1: Sunday Pot Roast w/ Mushroom Gravy

Ingredients
  • 1 (4 to 5-pound) boneless beef bottom round roast
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • 2 medium yellow onions, halved and sliced
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Pat the meat dry with paper towels and season well on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the roast and brown all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the meat to a plate and add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and beginning to release liquid, about 5 minutes.

Add the onions and broth and stir until combined. Nestle the roast into the vegetables, adding any juices it released to the pot. Add the beef broth, bring to a simmer, cover, and transfer to the oven to roast for 2 1/2 hours. Remove the lid, carefully flip the meat and continue cooking for 30 minutes; the meat should be fork tender and the liquid reduced.

Remove the pot from the oven, transfer the meat to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep it warm. Let the mushrooms and onions stand several minutes undisturbed to allow some of the beef fat to rise to the surface. With a large spoon, skim off the excess fat and discard. With a ladle, add about 1 1/2 cups of the mushrooms and onions with some cooking liquid to the bowl of a blender or food processor. Carefully puree the mixture until very smooth. Pour the puree back into the pot and stir very well until combined; taste and adjust seasoning.

To serve, slice the pot roast and arrange on a serving platter. Drizzle some mushroom gravy over the top and pass the extra gravy at the table.

Parsnip Potato Mash

Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds parsnips (about 8 small), peeled and chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Finely chopped chives, for garnish, optional

Directions

Put the potatoes and parsnips in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, cover with cold water and salt it generously. Bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium and simmer until fork tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Put the butter and half-and-half in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot.

Drain the potatoes and parsnips well and return them to the hot pan. Stir the vegetables in the pan to dry them out a bit. Add the hot butter mixture and season with salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped chives.


Recipe #2: Ham & Cheese Croquettes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup leftover potatoes from Parsnip-Potato Mash recipe or plain mashed potatoes
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Gruyere cheese, about 1-ounce
  • 1/2 cup very finely diced cooked ham or country ham, about 2 ounces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying

Directions

In a bowl, mix the potatoes, 1/4 cup flour, cheese, and ham with a large rubber spatula until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and divide the mixture into 8 equal portions. Rub your hands with a small amount of flour and form the portions into small flat disks about 1/2-inch thick. Use just enough flour to keep the potatoes from sticking to your hands, but do not coat them completely.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Shallow-fry the croquettes, turning once, until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Remove from the oil and drain on a paper-towel lined plate. Let the croquettes cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

Cook's Note: This recipe doubles easily if you have enough leftover potatoes.

Recipe #3; Pot Roast and Arugula Panini

Ingredients
  • 8 slices seven-grain bread, about 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 8 ounces creamy Havarti, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups (about 12 ounces) leftover shredded pot roast, at room temperature, from Sunday Pot Roast with Mushroom Gravy recipe
  • 1 cup baby arugula leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Heat a large well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium-low heat.

Lay the bread slices on a work surface and spread about a teaspoon of mustard on each slice. Divide the sliced cheese among all 8 slices. Evenly spread the meat over 4 cheese-topped bread slices, followed by 1/4 of the arugula. Season with salt and pepper and cover with the remaining 4 slices of bread.

Working in 2 batches, if necessary, put 2 of the sandwiches into the skillet. Weight the sandwiches down with a bacon press or cover them with a sheet of parchment and set a slightly smaller skillet directly on top. Put a can of tomatoes or a brick in the top skillet to weigh the pan down. Cook until the sandwich bottoms are golden and cheese is beginning to melt, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the bacon press or top skillet, flip the sandwiches, return the press or parchment and top skillet to the pan and cook until golden brown, an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat with the remaining 2 sandwiches.

Slice the panini on a diagonal and arrange on a serving platter. Serve immediately.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Garden Quick Tip

If you want continuous and long lasting blooms in your garden there is one simple thing you need to do: Cut the flower stem before it goes to seed. When a plant hasn't produced its seed it will try again and will keep trying until the job is done. So cut blooms that are fading away or a few new ones for the kitchen table. In the end it makes for a prettier and long blooming garden.

advice from Gracefulgardens.com (http://www.gracefulgardens.com/)

Simple Dinners.....

Great tips from Everyday Cheapskate Newsletter by Mary Hunt. I hope you get some good takeaways from this one.... Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)


Five Ways to Keep Dinner Simple


By Jane DeLaney, founder of E-Mealz

Spring baseball season is here again, and one of the first things to fly into the outfield is family dinnertime. As a mom of four scattered, school-age kids, it is quite the feat to make dinner magically appear each night, even on the best of days. Add the drive-thru temptation, and the food budget will take a fatal hit. So here are some things I've gleaned to curtail the disappearance of dinner, no matter what the season.

1. Keep dinner simple. Meals do not have to be elaborate to be good. Stick to simple recipes with few ingredients. If it's too complicated, you set yourself up for failure.

2. Eat in.
Think of eating out as an occasion, not a habit or quick-fix.

3­. Have a plan.Write your own simple dinner menu, or have it done for you by E-Mealz. It does wonders to have your family's meal plan off your mind and on a piece of paper. Not having a plan will translate into money down the drain.

4. Make dinner after breakfast.
Make dinner ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator. That way, dinner will be there for everyone, no matter what each person's schedule is. Grab a plate, warm it up, and a full meal magically appears!

5. Embrace the slow cooker.
Did the baseball game go into overtime? Not to worry. A warm dinner will be waiting, thanks to the slow cooker. Try one my family's favorites: French Dip Sandwiches. Eat at home together and use the time to decompress, save money, and enjoy!


French Dip Sandwiches


.5 to 1 pound any cut of roast beef, fat removed (Tip: Buy the least expensive cut.)
1 (14-ounce) can beef broth
1/2 cup water
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 loaf French bread
1 (8-ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese

Combine the beef broth, water and onion soup mix in a slow cooker. Add the roast. Cook on low for 6 hours. Remove the roast and slice into shredded pieces.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Slice the French bread in half, lengthwise. Place the open loaf on a baking sheet. On the bottom half, layer beef, then cheese. Close the sandwich tightly with the top half of the loaf. Cover loosely with foil, sealing seams tightly around the pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove and slice. Serve sliced sandwiches with individual bowls of broth from the slow cooker for dipping. Serves: 6.

Serve with chips and sliced cucumbers with Ranch dressing.

©Copyright 2010 Mary Hunt
Everyday Cheapskate is a Registered Trademark

Tzatziki YUM!

OMG! I was so excited to see this recipe for Tatziki! LOVE this stuff, but in North East PA we don't have it readily available...or at least not that I have seen. I import it from New York when I visit my parents :) . This recipe is so simple and delicious. (recipe found on www.onceuponachef.com). I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! - Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)

Tzatziki (Low Fat Yogurt & Cucumber Dip)

Tzatziki 10 glow

If it's wrong to eat dip right out of the bowl with a spoon, then I'm guilty. With this classic Greek tzatziki, I simply can't help myself. One taste leads to another, and another and – well, it's healthy – so just one more...



Tzatziki 15

Try it and you'll see...there's something oddly addicting about the combination of tangy-thick yogurt, crunchy grated cucumber, olive oil, garlic and aromatic fresh mint. Yes, it's all good for you but that's just an added bonus here.

Tzatziki 14

Like most dips, you can buy it in a tub but nothing beats the freshness and taste of homemade, especially when it's this easy to make. Just be sure to use authentic Greek strained yogurt (it's very thick and creamy) and squeeze as much water as possible out of your grated cucumber. Use your hands to wring the liquid out...I'm talking several minutes of squeezing and re-squeezing. You won't believe how much water is in there!

Tzatziki 5

As for the herbs, tzatziki is traditionally made with either mint or dill. I prefer the flavor of mint but feel free to substitute fresh dill if you like.

Tzatziki 8

Serve it with store bought pita chips as an appetizer...or wait til next week and serve it as a topper for my Greek-style lamb burgers.

And get that spoon ready :)

Tzatziki (Low Fat Yogurt & Cucumber Dip)

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

1 ½ cups plain 2% Greek yogurt (I use Fage)
1 medium seedless cucumber, coarsely grated and squeezed as dry as possible (about 1 cup)
2 small garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, good quality such as Lucini or Colavita
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, plus a pinch more for garnish

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary (I add about ¼ teaspoon more salt but season to your own taste). Cover and chill until ready to serve. Garnish with a pinch of finely chopped mint if desired.

Seedless cucumbers are also called English cucumbers or hothouse cucumbers. They are typically wrapped in plastic

Organic Can Be Easy!

Here is an interesting article I found on the Mamapedia website/blog (http://www.mamapedia.com/voices/organic-can-be-easy) on eating organic. She makes is seem so easy! - Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)


Photo
Photo by: Scot Rumery

Organic Can Be Easy!

April 11, 2010
37 Comments

I have been addicted to organic food for almost 10 years. I know it is better for me, my kids and better for the planet. Studies have shown organic produce to be higher in anti-oxidants; vitamins and minerals (thank you to The Organic Center for your vigilant scientific research) and organic diary, meat and eggs have fewer hormones, antibiotics and pesticide residues (yes, pesticides are found in meat because cattle are eating feed laden with them). It’s also true that organic farming is more sustainable; it uses fewer resources and encourages community. But above all else it tastes better. Try this experiment. Blindfold your kid and have him taste both a conventional and organic apple. You will see, he will pick the organic apple.

I know, I know, you say, “but organic is so expensive, so cost prohibitive, and especially in this economy. At the end of the day isn’t it all the same?” I am not sure what is more expensive: organic food that will nourish good health or illness and a lifetime of medical bills, pills and doctor’s visits? In essence I see eating organic food as preventative medicine. That being said here are some ways to cut costs and eat organically that will benefit your family’s health and pocket book.

1. Prioritize your shopping list. Decide for yourself what is not that important and what you are not willing to compromise. In my opinion staying away from the ‘Dirty Dozen’ is a good idea. These crops are the most sprayed. This list includes: apples, cherries, grapes, imported (Chile), nectarines, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, bell peppers, celery, potatoes, and spinach.

I would also suggest dairy, meat, eggs and coffee to be on your “must buy organic” list.
Save money on the “it’s okay if it’s not organic” list. Exposure to pesticides will be minimal if any.” This list includes: onions, garlic, bananas, kiwi, mangoes, papaya, pineapples, asparagus, avocado, broccoli, and cauliflower.

2. Shop at your local farmer’s market and in season. Buying direct from farmers is always cheaper when you cut out the middleman. And buying strawberries for example (a late spring and summer fruit) in December will always be more expensive then when purchasing in season. Even conventionally grown. Tip: purchase berries in season and then freeze them for the off-season, for pies, jams and smoothies.

Find your local farmer’s market at Local Harvest.org. They have a list of over 20,000 farmer’s markets nation wide.

3. Join a Coop or buying club. Purchasing food with a group of friends or like-minded individuals from a coop that is community run and sells products in bulk is a great way to save money on organic food. For a complete nationwide list go to Coop Directory.org

4. I know I am stating the obvious here but nothing is cheaper than your homegrown variety. Grow your own garden. Up until about 50-60 years ago that’s what we did. “I live in a city” you say, become a part of a community garden.

And lastly pick up my book Anna Getty’s Easy Green Organic. The book helps you take the simple steps to reconnecting to your food. We all want to save money, eat good food and be healthy. I wrote this book to help moms and people everywhere do exactly those. It has lots of great green tips to have a healthier, leaner and greener kitchen and 100 recipes that are simple, healthy and tasty and encouraging you to use organic ingredients. Try not to feel overwhelmed. If you want to shop organically do so one step at a time. This is one of my favorite recipes from the book to get you started and so easy.

Simple Tomato Sauce and Spaghetti

The first thing I ever learned to cook was the pasta dish my grandmother taught me. It requires only four ingredients (not including the salt, pepper, and Parmesan). For years it was my staple recipe and I never revealed her secret: a stick of butter. Serves 4 to 6

One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
4 large fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 pound spaghetti
1 Cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the tomatoes in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Use a potato masher to mash the tomatoes into coarse pieces. Add the butter and basil and simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water with a small handful of salt tossed in until the spaghetti is al dente, still slightly firm to the bite. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining the spaghetti

In a large bowl, toss the spaghetti with the sauce. Add some pasta water if the sauce is too dry, but don’t make it watery; the sauce should hug the noodles. Mix in generous amounts of Parmesan and serve.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Laundry Solutions: prevent fading

WOW! great tips from Everyday Cheapskate Newsletter and Mary Hunt. - Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)


Five Ways to Prevent Clothing
Colors from Fading


Dear Mary,
Do you have any tips for washing dark colors inexpensively?


Follow these steps and you can wash your dark clothes with the same laundry detergent you use for your whites and brights.

1. Inside out. Washing and drying is tough on the outside surfaces of the items, which causes dark colors to become dull and rough, so wash and dry colored items inside out. If you hang these items in the sun to dry, leave them inside out. Sun is brutal on colors.

2. Cold water. If you want to prevent fading from your colored clothing, wash them in cold water. Detergents have come a long way in the last several years, and most do as well in cold water as they do in hot or warm. The warmer the water, the more likely it is to pull color from the fibers and wash it down the drain.

3. Short cycle. You want colored laundry items to spend as little time as possible exposed to water and detergent. That means no soaking and a short wash cycle of no longer than six minutes. That is plenty long to get those dark items clean.

4. Under-dry. Over-drying can cause colors to fade. Pull them from the dryer or the line while they are still slightly damp.

5. Use vinegar. Add a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle of your bright or dark colors to help "set" the color and to prevent premature fading.


©Copyright 2010 Mary Hunt
Everyday Cheapskate is a Registered Trademark

Budget Decorating?

Another great article by Everyday Cheapskate by Mary Hunt. Everyone is pinching their pennies these days. I would love to make my house look new, but I for one do not have the extra money. Our Tax refund? gone...went to past bills. So looks like I will have to find another way to give a face lift to the things I have. As always I love to hear your thoughts - Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom) Enjoy!


Seven Ways to Redecorate on a Dime


The key to great decor isn't how much money you have to spend. It's seeing possibilities in what you have already. You'll be surprised at what you can do yourself for little or no cost.

1. Use what you've got. I have a friend who calls herself a professional arranger. People hire her to come to their homes and "redecorate" with the things they have. She goes through every room, cupboard and closet taking inventory of everything available for her final designs. Then, she completely clears the room and starts from scratch to furnish and decorate with only the things that she found in the home. The results are amazing.


2. Paint is cheap. Changing the color of one wall can change the entire mood and look of that room. One quart of paint is all you need. You can fool the eye with the way you use paint, making a room appear larger or smaller just by the choice of color. Cool colors and lighter tints make walls look farther apart; rich, dark colors bring walls dramatically closer, creating an intimate look in a large room.

3. Strategic placement. The furniture you use most should be farthest from the entrance. If possible, avoid positioning couches, chairs, dining tables or desks against walls. Give yourself at least three feet between the furniture and walls.

4. Pictures and art. Most people hang pictures and art too high. The focal point for a single picture or the center of a group of pictures should be at eye-level for a person who is five feet and seven inches tall.

5. Groups of pictures. How you group and hang pictures on your walls makes all the difference between a room that is boring and one that is inviting. Gather the pictures you want to hang in a particular group. Then, get a large piece of paper the size of the area where you will hang these pictures, and lay it on the floor. Arrange the frames on the paper the way you want them hung on the wall. Use a marker to draw around each item. Remove the pictures and tape the paper to the wall. Now, you can easily see where to put each nail. Once the nails are in place, carefully pull the paper away, and hang the pictures in their proper places.

6. Plants. Select plants that are right for the light available in the area where you want to display them. Some easy growers that don't require a lot of extra care include Philodendron and Boston fern.

7. Do it yourself. Whether it's making slipcovers, painting a wall or ceiling, or laying tile, you'll save a ton of money when you can do these things yourself. Search online or take a class at your local home center. Typically these are free or you pay only for the cost of materials. The parks and recreation departments of many cities also offer low-cost classes, as do community colleges and universities.

©Copyright 2010 Mary Hunt
Everyday Cheapskate is a Registered Trademark

Book Review: How to be Fabulous Even When You're Broke

I can't wait to read this book! The title alone sums up ME right now! If you have read this book please send me your review. (Article found on the Everyday Cheapskate Newsletter by Mary Hunt). as always I love to hear your thoughts! - Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)



Everything Michelle McKinney Hammond knows about money, she's learned the hard way. Now, she's telling all in her new book, Divanomics: How to Still Be Fabulous When You're Broke (Tyndale 2010).

It's not like Michelle was born impoverished. Quite the opposite, in fact. You might say she was born with a designer rattle in one hand and a shopping bag in the other.

With a mother from Barbados and a father from Ghana, West Africa, this international baby was born in London, educated in Barbados and finally landed in Michigan, where her mother remarried a wealthy American. Let's just say that, growing up, Michelle lacked for nothing. Her American stepfather was determined that she would have everything her heart desired. If he missed anything, her biological dad was standing at the ready to fill in the blanks. All of this generosity created in Michelle a belief that no whim should ever be denied.

Right out of college, Michelle landed in a fabulous advertising career. "I was art director, copywriter and producer extraordinaire, flitting coast to coast producing television, radio, and print advertising for top-notch clients." It didn't take long for her to elevate herself to full-on "diva" status and to become accustomed to her high-flying lifestyle. She had everything, including wonderful jewels, designer clothing and three diva dogs. If she wanted something, she found a way to get it.

Even high-stylin' divas cannot escape the ravages and reality of a recession. It hit Michelle hard. There she sat at the end of her financial road, savings gone, IRA bottomed out, creditors hounding and her life basically in tatters.

In her latest book (she's written 34), Michelle, a self-proclaimed DIVA (Divine Inspiration for Victorious Attitude), shares what she learned about her own spending, desires and needs, and how she is adjusting to life during this unpredictable economy. Divanomics is filled with money-saving tips on fashion, beauty, home decor, entertaining, diet, housing, and more.

If you're worried that living below your income level is going to turn you into a frump, you need to spend a couple of hours with Michelle in this new book. She'll give you practical tips and her favorite websites and resources for finding everything a girl would want.

More than just tips and tricks for how to be fabulous even when you're broke, Michelle, with warmth and humor, will tell you how to invest your life in things that matter and how to hold onto faith, even when it feels like God doesn't know about your needs or care about your wants. She's going to convince you that's not the case at all. She'll tell you how you can get back to top of your game no matter what's going on in the economy!

©Copyright 2010 Mary Hunt
Everyday Cheapskate is a Registered Trademark

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Picky Eaters?

Here is an article that all moms can relate too. Picky eaters? Oh yeah! We've got them! As always I look forward to hearing your feedback and ideas. - Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom) Article thanks to 'Plugged In Parents' http://www.pluggedinparents.com/


Ways to Help Your Picky Eater


Written by Dr. Hillary

Image Busy toddlers might not be able to sit through a meal. They may also be afraid to try new foods, or refuse to eat in order to maintain control over their environment. Here are some strategies that might make family meals more enjoyable:

Offer small and frequent meals to make sure that your child gets all the necessary nutrients, but does not feel overwhelmed by the amount of food.

Serve meals and snacks at the same time of day. Toddlers need routine, and you should expect them to cooperate.

Provide 2-3 food choices at snack and meal times to give your child a sense of control.

Let your child develop food preferences at her own pace. Research shows that some children need to be exposed to certain foods several times before they try to eat them, so be patient!

Resist the urge to prepare your child’s favorite foods most of the time, as it will only promote picky eating.

Schedule snacks between meals so that your child eats every four hours or so. That will prevent irritability due to hunger or low blood sugar.

Make meals a family time. Sit together at the table during meals. Expect your toddler to do the same. Research shows that eating meals as a family has a positive effect on the quality of a child’s diet. It also teaches the child to make good food choices in the future.

Turn off the TV! During meals, your toddler should concentrate on eating only.

Offer milk during meals and snacks for the total of 16-24 ounces a day. Between meals, offer water. Four ounces of juice can be given to your child a day, but dilute it with water. However, since juice provides mainly empty calories, water is the hydrating fluid of choice.

Don’t get frustrated. Incorporate some of these strategies and your child’s pickiness will improve with time.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Inspiring Children To Garden?

So here is an article that I borrowed from the 'Life On The Balcony' Blog. I am always trying to inspire and include my daughters to garden with me. and they do love it, for the first few days.... :) I am excited to try some of these ideas this spring with them. As always I look forward to hearing your ideas and feedback. Thanks - tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom) - Enjoy!

A Container Garden for Children and The Young At Heart

by Fern on April 5, 2010

Post image for A Container Garden for Children and The Young At  Heart

While growing vegetables is one way to teach children about nature and enchant them with gardening. It’s not the only way. If you’d like to add flowers to your children’s garden, you have come to the right post! Below you’ll find a container plan, as well as fun–and even weird–plants that kids will love.

Container Idea

The plan above is for a 48 inch planter box, though you could easily change it to fit a smaller planter box by reducing the number of plants. These plants need full sun.

  • S – Sunflower
  • P – Penstemon ‘Firecracker’
  • E – Eyeball Plant

Sunflowers are a great plant for kids. They grow easily from seed, bees, butterflies, and birds love them, and with any luck, the flower will create the edible seeds that kids everywhere love to munch on. Look for a short variety, like Sunspot so the flowers will be within reach of your kids.

Firecracker Penstemon will attract hummingbirds, which are always fun to watch. The plant also provides an opportunity to learn about native plants and how Native Americans used them. For example, they used Penstemon in ceremonies, and looked for its blooms as a signal to stop planting melon seeds. If it is already past your last frost date, look for the plants in nurseries. But there is still time to sow Penstemon seeds outside if your last frost date is a few weeks away.

Eyeball Plant (Spilanthes oleracea) is just plain fun. The flowers look like little eyeballs, hence the name. The seeds germinate quickly, so they’ll keep kids interest while they wait for the odd flowers to appear.

More Fun Plants to Grow With Kids

  • If you grow ‘Lemon Queen’ Sunflower, you can participate in the Great Sunflower Project and count the bees that you see visiting your plant. Kids can practice counting and adding (if they’re preschool or kindergarten age) and about conducting research and collecting data if they’re already in elementary school.
  • Chocolate Flower smells like chocolate, and will attract butterflies. Fun on both counts!
  • If you’d like to grow something indoors that will get your kids attention (I remember loving this plant as a kid), look for Sensitive Plant (or grow it from seed). When the leaves are touched, the plant quickly closes them up. This plant is only appropriate for children old enough to know not to eat it, as it’s poisonous if ingested.

Spring Pea & Basil Soup

Here is a yummy, easy recipe I copied from the 'Once Upon A Chef ' website. I added it as a favorite on my Facebook page and get frequent updates on easy recipes. As always I would love to hear your thoughts. - Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom) Enjoy!

Spring Pea Pesto Soup 1a

The kids' cheeks are sun-kissed, the bikes are out of the garage and the pansies are in the pots...it's official, spring is finally here! It's been a long, long time coming, so this Spring Pea & Basil Soup tastes all the better. It's the perfect first course or light meal...delicate, sweet green peas simmered in vegetable broth, then puréed with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese. So simple, so fresh, so good for you.



Spring Pea Pesto Soup 8

What's more? It's surprisingly easy to make. Frozen peas, vegetable broth from a carton, you get the idea...

Spring Pea Pesto Soup 10

To start, simply chop some shallots and fresh basil...

Spring Pea Pesto Soup 9

Then gently sizzle the shallots in olive oil. Add a few bags of frozen peas and vegetable broth and let it all bubble together...

Spring Pea Pesto Soup 11

Toss in your freshly chopped basil and Parmesan...

Spring Pea Pesto Soup 12

Purée with a blender, season to taste and, voilà, soup is served!

Spring Pea Pesto Soup 13

Enjoy hot or cold, as a starter or main course, for lunch or dinner. Happy Spring!

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Spring Pea & Basil Soup
Printable Recipe

Serves 6

Ingredients

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup roughly chopped shallots
6 cups low sodium vegetable broth (1 ½ large cartons, I use Swanson Organic)
6 cups (2 pounds) frozen peas
1 small lime
salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add shallots and gently cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 8-10 minutes.

2. Add vegetable broth, peas, ½ tablespoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes.

3. Remove pan from heat and add basil and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Purée with a stick blender until smooth and creamy. Be patient…peas take a long time to purée and you want it as smooth as possible. (If you don’t have a stick blender, let the soup cool slightly and purée in batches in a blender. Be sure to crack the lid or remove the center cap to allow steam to escape and cover with a dish towel so it won't splatter. Rinse the pot and return the soup to pot.) Taste and adjust seasoning. I usually add about a ¼ teaspoon more salt, a sprinkling of fresh ground pepper and a squirt of lime. Ladle into bowls and serve hot, or chill and serve cold.

This soup will thicken as it cools. Simply add a bit of water to thin to desired consistency.

If you want to dress it up, add a seasoned crouton to each bowl.