admin / January 23, 2012

It’s Meatless Monday-The Ideal Day for Chili

It’s snowing but I can’t complain because so far…she says with fingers crossed, it’s been a mild and snowfree winter. I looked out the window and thought today would be perfect for making soup or a stew. As it’s Meatless Monday I decided to check the offical Meatless Monday site to see what they suggested. This chili seemed perfect. Best thing is it uses quinoa and I had some thanks to the folks at truRoots who sent me three of their products to try.  Someone told me that this grain is even more tasty if you toast it before you add it to recipe. So I did that by heating it in a skillet for couple of minutes while the onions were cooking. It’s a food that’s packed with nutrition and I’m seeing more meatless recipes using it.

And the following recipe also contains nutritional yeast which is optional. I  use it and buy in the bulk bins at the local. You can also purchase it online.

Here’s the link to truRoots if you want to learn more about the product and they have some recipes too.

http://www.truroots.com/Default.aspx

And here’s the link to this Monday’s recipe if you want to try it.

http://www.meatlessmonday.com/quinoa-chili/

And finally some photos I took as I made this recipe-

admin / January 20, 2012

Three New Recipes to Try

I always love the recipes the folks at Pringles send my way. Here are three  that look easy to make but I’m sure delicious. I’m told the chicken fingers are especially good. And with fish going on sale next month when Lent rolls around, the fish nuggets will make an ideal meal.

Chicken Pringlers 

INGREDIENTS

·   2- 6.38-ounce cans of  Pringles (BBQ, Honey Mustard, Xtreme Blastin Buffalo or any of your favorite Pringles flavors)

·   2 pounds of boneless chicken breast or chicken tenders, cut into 1 1/2” nuggets

·   2 cups of skim milk or buttermilk

 DIRECTIONS

1.   Preheat oven to 400°F with a rack in the middle.

2.   Place nuggets in milk.

3.   Puree the Pringles in a food processor, and pour into a large sealable plastic bag. Place two or three nuggets at a time in the bag and shake to coat.

4.   Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, and place the well-coated nuggets in a single layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. 

5.   Remove and let stand, uncovered, 5 to 10 minutes to crisp.

Crispy Fish Nuggets

 

INGREDIENTS

·    2- 6.38-ounce cans of Pringles Salt & Vinegar flavor

·    2 pounds cod fillets, cut into 1-inch cubes

·    2 cups of skim milk

DIRECTIONS

1.   Place nuggets in milk.

2.   Puree the Pringles in a food processor, and pour into a large sealable plastic bag. Place two or three nuggets at a time in the bag and shake to coat.

3.   Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, and place the well-coated nuggets in a single layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. 

4.   Remove and let stand, uncovered, 5 to 10 minutes to crisp.

Loaded Twice-Baked Taters Appetizers

 

INGREDIENTS

·   2 – 6.38-ounce cans of Pringles Loaded Baked Potato flavor

·   1 1/2 cup skim milk

·   1 egg

·  1 slice of cheese

·   Dried chives for garnish

·    Bacon bits for garnish, optional

 DIRECTIONS

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.

2.   Place one 6.38-ounce can of Pringles Loaded Baked Potato crisps in a food processor and puree until well crushed.

3.   Add milk, egg and cheese slice into mixture and puree until well mixed.

4.   Take Pringles from remaining can and place 48 crisps on a cookie sheet with the curve of the crisp and sides facing down.

5.    With a very small spoon, place a rounded scoop onto each crisp and sprinkle with dried chives and bacon bits.

6.   Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. Remove and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

admin / January 19, 2012

Five Must Have Appliances for the Budget Smart Kitchen

Since my teenage years I’ve been a collecter of cooking gadgets, appliances and utensils. However, if I had to narrow down five appliances that I would keep no matter what, these would top my list. I don’t think any budget smart kitchen should be without them-

Slow Cooker

Even when they went out of fashion I still used one. I now have two and thinking about adding a third one. I’ve used mine from everything from making mashed potatoes to apple butter. Most of the time I rely on them for soups and stews. They’re not expensive to buy, cost efficient to run, and once everything’s placed inside you can walk away and forget about it. I can’t think of an easier way to get dinner on the table.

Bread Machine

One of my favorite indulgences is artisan breads. Problem is they cost a lot and the prices are rising (no pun intended). One of my New Year resolutions was to start making my own. One I especially love is cheese bread. This past weekend I made a cheese and onion bread. They’re not that expensive to buy, and like the slow cooker, when everything’s added you can leave it unattended. Check out garage sales because I see them a lot. Seems people buy one and don’t realize just how great they are.

Food Dehydrator

And speaking of cheese and onion bread. The onions  I used were dried Vidalia onions I’d bought when they were in abundance and hence cheap, and used my food dehydrator. When you don’t have time to can this is a lifesaver. This summer I dehydrated strawberries, onions and peppers. At Christmas when I bought a box of oranges, I dehydrated those too and will be using them in brownies. Once again check garage sales and also thrift stores for this appliance.

Food Saver

I call this a life saver because once again if you don’t have time to can or have leftoevers you can’t eat before they go bad, this machine comes to the rescue. They’re coming down in price and a couple of models you can buy at supermarkets. I’ve used mine to store homemade TV dinners, soups, fish from warehouse stores, and even items I’ve purchased from bulk bins.

Food Processor

Last one on my list, and probably the most expensive of the bunch depending on what brand you buy, the food processor. I use mine for homeade dips and spreads like hummus which I think is overpriced at the store. I also use it for things like bean burgers rather than mash the beans by hand.

These are all items that I feel save you money and time. Have them in your kitchen and you’re more likely to make your own foods. You’ll rely less on processed foods that are not only take a chunk of your budget but they’re not that great for your health either.

admin / January 13, 2012

Getting Organized for the Budget Minded

Years ago when I was a publicist I’d drive to one of my client’s offices a couple of times a month. On that journey I’d pass a store selling everything you’d need to get organized.

I’m not sure what it was about the store that drew me in every month but I felt compelled to go check it out. However, the outcome was always the same. I’d come out empty handed and disheartened because being organized was obviously out of my budget.  Always one for a challenge, I took note of the items in the store. I looked around to find things that were either free or low cost to help organize my home and office.  Here are some of my favorites and most of them you either toss out or can find at garage sales or thirft stores-

Egg Cartons

 

I often use these for starting seeds in spring but they’re also perfect for desk tops, hobby and craft areas. and even the workbench for storing nails and bolts.

Spice Jars

I’m terrible at throwing things away even if I have two of them. I got a new spice jar rack and just hated to get rid of this one. I turned it into a neat little organizer for my office housing elastic bands, clips, paper clips etc. Best thing is it spins around for easy viewing and use.

Wine Racks

Yes, they keep your wine bottles neat and tidy but I bought one from a garage sale for a $1 and use it for storing magazines.

Leftover Food Containers

Sometimes when I buy something at the store I know the empty container will come in useful. These are some of the items I use for everything from housing craft items to sun dried tomatoes to homemade cleaning products.

Produce Bags

One Christmas I found myself with lots of the orange net bags that citrus fruit is sold in. Now they store most things in the garage, like these tennis balls. I have one for golf balls too. I know lots of people put pet toys in them. Best thing is if they get dirty you can hang them up and run the hose over them. And I know a few people who keep them near the bathtub for their children’s bath toys.

It Used to Be Something Else

Whenever a major appliance bites the dust I always think about what can be salvaged for organizing. I used the bottom rack of a dishwasher for my gardening tools. It keeps them upright, clean, and I can see everything at a quick glance.

I use the small plastic containers from an old refrigerator for storing small packets of food items like dressing and taco seasoning. It’s easy to put them in the cupboard and flick through everything in minutes.

The main thing is to be creative and keep looking around for items that would make the perfect organizerfor your particular needs.

If you’re looking to buy a few store bought organizers now’s the time to do it. Just like diet and exercising most people make getting more organized on their resolution list and hence all the big sales.

And here’s a great organizing site I stumbled upon last month-http://getbuttonedup.com/

And if you need to write things down to get organized, check out these free planners-

http://www.productiveflourishing.com/free-planners/

admin / January 9, 2012

It’s Meatless Monday-Sausage and Mushroom Pie with Carmelized Onion Gravy

I have to admit I have a weakness for some of the fake meat products. Not all of them, but a few are always stored in my freezer. On top of that list are the Veggie Sausage Links from Morningstar Farm. They taste as close to the real thing as you can get and are often on sale which is when I stock up. Over the holidays I’d bought some puff pastry that was on sale and thought about what I could make with these two items. After looking through my supplies I found a box of mushrooms and some onions. So I came up with this recipe. It’s really simple and looks a lot more fancy and expensive than it really is. Best thing is it’s ideal for Meatless Monday and there’s enough for two meals.

1 box Morningstar Farms Veggie Sausage Links

1 box ready made puff pastry ( I used Pepperridge Farm)

1 box of mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

2 onions, peeled and sliced

1 14 ounce can of stock…I used homemade veggie stock

2 tablespoon, flour, cornstarch or as I used seasoned flour

1 tablespoon butter

some salt, pepper, dried thyme

some oil

Heat some oil in a frying pan and cook the sausage until they’re golden brown. Chop them into bite size pieces and set aside.

Add some more oil and add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown. Add them to the sausages, mix together.

Roll out the pastry. I used two different shapes, one long rectangle and also two smaller round pies. Just fill the pastry with the mixture and bake for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

While the pies are baking-

Heat some more oil and the butter in a pan and add the onion slices, add salt, pepper and thyme and reduce heat to medium and let the onion saute until they’re carmelized…about twenty minutes. Add some flour, stir and heat through and then gradually add enough stock to make a gravy.

Remove pies form oven and serve with gravy and some mixed vegetables.

Serves 4.

admin / January 4, 2012

New Year Resolutions for the Budget Minded

A happy New Year to everyone. I you all enjoyed the holiday season. Now it’s back to normal and being that it’s a brand new year articles about resolutions are everywhere. Most of them focus on losing weight and exercising but it’s the perfect time to think about money and savings ones too.

I’ve made a few, like throwing zero food away. I’m pretty good about it now but there’s still room for improvement.

I’ll also be making my own gourmet breads instead of paying almost $5 for a loaf I can make for a few dollars, even less…I’ve almost got the cheese bread down to an art!

I’ve attempted this one for the last few years but never got it into full swing…planting and starting a vegetable garden. One of my neighbors told me she’s going to plant one so maybe that will be the incentive I need.

I’m also going to look for more ways I can save, even if it’s a penny here and there as I always say it all adds up.

Here are some of my tips for sticking with money resolutions-

Don’t Start Just Yet

I’ve found if I try something out on January 1st I’m doomed to fail. You need time to adjust to the New Year and also get back into a normal way of life after the holidays. It’s better to put your plan into motion in say mid January or even February.

Start Small

Going on a money diet is a lot like a food diet, tell yourself you have to lose 30 pounds and when it doesn’t happen you give up. Instead of saying I’ll save $100 a month, try $20 or even $10. Once you’ve gained confidence and know you can do it, aim higher.

Don’t Go Too Cold Turkey

Once again it’s a lot like dieting, deprieve yourself too much and you’re soon back to eating fries and candy. Life, even when you’re on a budget is supposed to be fun, so don’t cut out everything that brings you joy.

Make It a Game

I’ve got into the habit of making coupon clipping and finding corresponding sale items a game I play every week for an hour or so. If it’s less of a task and more of a  fun couple of hours, you’re more likely to stick with it, not only for the first few months of the year, but always.

Get a Buddy

Most people are in the same situation now. Everyone is watching their money like never before so why not find someone to be your budget buddy. Maybe you can clip coupons together, carpool to a grocery store you’ve never been before, even cook budget meals together and swap recipes.

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Setbacks and failure are inevitable but that doesn’t mean you’ll never achieve your goal. Start over and figure out where you went wrong and how you can change things the next time around.

My budget releated article finds of the week-

If you’re looking to make some extra cash this year-

http://shine.yahoo.com/financially-fit/7-things-home-more-valuable-think-215800882.html

Put some of these on your to do list-

http://financiallyfit.yahoo.com/finance/article-113826-11732-1-10-things-you-should-stop-paying-for-in-2012?ywaad=ad0035&nc

And if you have an extra $100 this article has some ideas for you-

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/smart-things-you-can-do-with–100-in-2012.html

Check out the new Budget Smart Girl Store Dismiss