admin / April 11, 2018

Three Ingredients and a Slow Cooker Dessert

Most of you know I like to keep a full pantry. A couple of times a year I sort through it and begin using the older supplies. Last week (a surprisingly chilly one for this time of year), I wanted something gooey and sweet for dessert. I had a box of Devil’s Food cake mix that needed using and soon. A quick search of the rest of the pantry yielded candied ginger and a can of sliced pears. The combination sounded too good to pass on and with the help of the slow cooker, this dessert was ready in a couple of hours. I topped it with Greek yogurt but I’m guessing ice cream would be good too. Serving size is around 6-8.



1 box Devil’s Food Cake Mix (don’t follow the ingredient measurements…I went with ¼ oil and just 1 egg)

2 tablespoons finally chopped candied ginger (more if you like the heat)

1 15 ounce can of sliced pears (drained)



Spray the slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.

Place the pears and ginger at the bottom.

Make the cake mix and pour on top of the pears and ginger.

Turn on low and cook for about two hours.

Serve warm.


admin / February 10, 2012

A Budget Friendly Appliance-The Slow Cooker

One kitchen appliance I love for saving me both time and money is my slow cooker. Actually I have two of them. If you haven’t tried using one to cook a couple of meals a week, here are some resources I gathered up to help you-

Converting Recipes

I have lots of recipes using the slow cooker that I use over and over again. And yes, that’s the problem. I wanted to convert some of my other recipes to this style of cooking but didn’t know where to start. I found this useful guide from a site called Saving Dinner…you can sign up for the newsletter too.

Lots of Good Recipes

One site I have bookmarked, and I also checked out the book at the library and loved all the recipes is this one. (One plus is the author gives some feedback on how the recipe turned out so you know what to expect)-

More Slow Cooker Tips

Even after you’ve been using your slow cooker for years there are still things to learn-

Reasons to Love the Slow Cooker

Cheaper Foods Cook Well

One thing the slow cooking process does is tenderize cheaper cuts of meats so it’s a good way to stretch your budget.

Save on Energy

A slow cooker uses less energy than turning on the oven and a couple of burners. You can put everything, meat, potatoes and veggies in one pot and you’re done. In summertime it doesn’t overheat your kitchen.

Clean Up is Easy

If you’re short on time, cleaning up one pot is simple.

Walk Away and Leave It

One of my favorite things about a slow cooker is I can put everything into it in the morning, walk away, do my work and not have to worry about it until dinner time. It’s almost like having a live in chef.

Makes Just About Anything

And it’s not just soups and stews you can make. I’ve heard people who have great success with baking cakes in theirs. I’ve made apple butter in mine, baked cheese for an appertizer during the holidays. And in my opinion rice and bread puddings made in one are fantastic.

Cooking Beans is Simple

Last year I decided not to buy any more canned beans. I know they don’t break the budget but from one pound of beans that costs around $1.20 I get about six cans for beans. And I can buy varieties I can’t always find in the canned version.

My routine for cooking them is simple. After dinner I soak them for a few hours, drain them, and then add more water. (make sure you have about two inches of water above top layer of beans), I add peppercorns and bay leaves and let them cook on low overnight. When I get up the next morning they’re cooked and ready to be drained. If I’m not using them all at once I freeze them.

Lessons Learned

A couple of things I have learned not to do. When I first starting cooking with one, I’d remove the lid every hour to check on things…that’s a no-no because it increases the cooking time.

Also, don’t add things that cook quickly straight away. For example, if you’re using canned beans they don’t need to go into the slow cooker until the very end. Same goes for zucchini that quickly disappeared. And tofu, nope, cook it in a skillet and add it during the last five minutes just to warm it through.

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.

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