The Budget Smart Girl Newsletter for May 2010

This month’s newsletter is once again food focused so I hope you’ll give some of the recipes a try over the upcoming holiday weekend.

The New Dirty Dozen
If you remember my article about ways you can buy organic produce on a budget, you’ll know about the Dirty Dozen…produce that contains the most pesticides. The Environmental Working Group just released their new Dirty Dozen list. Check it out at www.foodnews.org/fulllist.php Remember don’t waste your money on buying produce with the least amount of pesticides.

Putting on a Party or a Crafter?
After visiting the local Dollar Tree store and picking up a flyer, I checked out their Web site and discovered two things. One, you can buy items online and two you can buy things by the case. A great idea if you need lots of one item for say a party and perfect if you’re a crafter. www.dollartree.com

Love the Garden
I’ve always wanted to go to the Chelsea Flower Show in England, but never got around to it. I found this site that’s connected with the event and has some gardening tips from amateurs to professionals. www.lovethegarden.com

Buy Some Plants in Distress
And speaking of gardening…I was working in the front yard last week when someone walked by, admired the garden and we got talking about how expensive plants can be year after year. This person mentioned a great way to get a discount is to look for plants that look distressed with wilting leaves and drying flower buds. Stores will often sell them to you for a deep discount but if the root is healthy…and that’s what you need to check before you hand over the money, with some TLC and grooming they’re as good as new again.

Ideas for a Memorial Day Feast
I always think of Memorial Day as the first of many days of eating outside, firing up the grill, or even putting together a picnic to take to the park or beach. Here are some ideas and recipes to use on either Memorial Day or all summer long.

Hamburgers with a Twist
Everyone loves hamburgers and they’re easy on the budget, but once in a while it’s nice to give them a little twist or two. There’s the cheeseburger, but how about forgoing the regular slice of cheese. Switch to something with a little more kick, like blue cheese, and placing it inside the burger, so it melts into the meat while it’s on the grill.

Not Just any Salad
How many picnics and get togethers have you either been invited to, or thrown yourself, where the same recipe for coleslaw or potato salad is rolled out? Over the years I’ve been adding different items to potato salads, like chopped eggs, roasted red peppers, chopped celery, sun-dried tomatoes. So experiment and see what works best for you. I also like leaving the skin on the potatoes, and also using a combination of white and sweet potatoes.
As for coleslaw, I’ve been using the broccoli slaw you can find it just about any produce department, and adding blue cheese dressing instead of mayonnaise.

I never think any meal is complete without the potato, but just throwing one on the grill can be a bit bland. Here’s an herb butter I’ve been using .Add some to the potato as soon as it comes off the grill, everyone says it compliments just about any type of dish.

Fresh Herb Butter
½ cup trans fat free spread or if you’re not watching the cholesterol, butter
1 cup of fresh herbs, I like a combination of thyme and basil, sometimes dill if you’re serving fish
1 small clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard

Place the butter into a bowl, and add the rest of the ingredients and mix until everything’s blended. Cover and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

Another tip is to wash and scrub the potato, rub it with oil and then sprinkle with salt. It flavors the potato from the outside in.
And sometimes I’ll cook the potatoes indoors. I love homemade seasoned fries. Cut the potatoes into wedges, toss in oil and add salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and I’ve even had success adding soy sauce for a really savory taste.

Quick Picnic Fare
I’ve always been a big fan of picnics and here’s something that is so simple and easy to put together. It’s best made the day before the picnic. I like to use bread like a foccacia, or you can use French loaf, Italian bread, anything that’s not pre-sliced. You want to slice it in half horizontally. On both halves spread either some olive oil, or pesto sauce. Then just start laying it with whatever you like. My favorites are cheese, roasted red peppers, artichokes and olives. You can use sliced ham, turkey. When you’re done layering, place the other top on the sandwich and wrap the whole thing tightly in cling wrap. Put it on a plate and then place it in the refrigerator. Next put something heavy like a large can of tomatoes or a gallon jug of milk, and leave it overnight. In the morning just put it into your picnic basket and when you’re ready to eat, cut it into wedges.

The Best Time of the Year For…This week’s a great time to stock up on grilling and picnic fare. Stores have sales on ketchup, hamburger and hot dog buns, hot dogs, canned baked beans. And if you can freeze them, stock up on corn on the cob and green beans.

Quick and Easy Summer Recipes
The great thing about running a site like Budget Smart Girl is companies send recipes for me to try. Here are two I received this month from La Tortilla Factory. www.latortillafactory.com They seem perfect for summer dinning.

Cheeseburger Quesadilla
Serves 1
1 large La Tortilla Factory Smart & Delicious Low Carb/High Fiber tortilla
1 Boca Original Meatless Burger, thawed
1 slice fat-free American cheese, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped pickles
Optional ingredients: salt, black pepper, garlic powder
Optional topping: ketchup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut burger into small bite-sized pieces. Bring a pan sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat on the stove. Add onion and burger pieces. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until onion is soft. Season mixture to taste with optional ingredients, if you like.

Spray a medium-large baking sheet lightly with nonstick spray. Lay tortilla flat on the sheet and evenly top with the cheese pieces. Bake in the oven for about 2 minutes, until cheese has melted slightly. Leave oven on. Spread burger mixture over one half of the tortilla. Top with pickles and fold tortilla in half, pressing down lightly with a spatula to seal.

Bake in the oven for another 3 to 5 minutes, until tortilla edges are slightly brown. Remove from the oven and cut into triangles. Top or serve with ketchup, if you like. Yum!

Asian Rotisserie Chicken Salad Wrap
Serves 2

2 La Tortilla Factory 100 Calorie Tortillas
3 ½ oz shredded Rotisserie Chicken, breast meat only
¼ c shredded cabbage
¼ c shredded carrots
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped green onion
2 ½ Tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro
4 Tbsp Reduced Fat Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing (or any other favorite Asian dressing)

1. In a bowl, combine the chicken, cabbage, carrot, green onion and cilantro and toss with dressing to mix well.
2. Place half of the chicken salad on a tortilla and roll away from you into a wrap.
3. Place the remaining mixture in the second tortilla and roll into a wrap.

Two Sites of Interest
I have to give credit to my husband for finding these two sites

Free Fax
I can’t remember the last time I faxed anything but if you ever need to this site lets you do it for free www.faxfree.com

What To Do
And if you’re wondering what’s happening in your neck of the woods, check out www.eventful.com

Summer Reading
I do most of my reading in the winter but one of my favorite guilty pleasures is sitting on the deck soaking up the sun and enjoying a good book. I had a stack of novels I’d finished reading and planned to donate them but then decided I’d swap or trade them for new ones for the upcoming summer reading season. Two sites I’ve been using are www.titletrader.com and www.swaptree.com All you do is pay for the postage to send the other member the book they request. And you can also trade and swap things like CDs and DVDs on these sites too.

Articles I found on the Web-
And finally, here are the best articles I found on the Internet this month.

What to know what it takes to be a millionaire, check out-www.tinyurl.com/27cp6jy

Are there any foods you should never buy-www.tinyurl.com/2a9mzet

Think you’re getting ripped off www.tinyurl.com/29rta9z

Learn how not to make budget planning mistakes www.tinyurl.com/28qk655

Next month, ways to stay cool this summer.

Have a great month and a relaxing holiday weekend.

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