Monday, October 29, 2012

Deviled Eggs

Our Mom's Club held the annual Harvest Festival this past week, and each mom was asked to bring a snack to share. I chose Deviled Eggs, because that's something that I always grab when I see them at a potluck.

I served them in a foil throw-away container and put each egg in a muffin cup - it kept them from sliding around and made it easy to grab them out of the container. I borrowed this idea from Ina Garten, holiday themed muffin papers would have been even cuter!

One of the moms came through and added Halloween food decorations to the platters of food on the table. It was cute to tie all the foods together and bring together the Halloween theme.

Deviled Eggs
from The Betty Crocker Cookbook

6 hard boiled eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Peel eggs. Cut lengthwise in half. Slip out yolks and mash with fork.
Stir mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper into yolks. Fill whites with egg yolks mixture, heaping it lightly. Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies

My husband went on a business trip and came home raving about the cookies at the hotel he stayed at. It's the little things in life, right? Although the recipe looked good, I ended up putting off making them for a few weeks.

Finally, he had a Poker Night, and the email invite said to bring "non-healthy" food, so he asked me to bake these cookies. I guess these were semi-better than wings or bags of chips.

My husband was very pleased with the cookies, and only came home with a few leftover. They were crunchy when cool, and unfortunately I just had my braces adjusted, so I have no idea how they tasted: they hurt my teeth too much. But I earned some HUGE wife bonus points for delivering!

Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies

3/4 cup (6 ounces) brown sugar

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar

8 tablespoons (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (3 1/4 ounces) vegetable shortening
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cloves
3 cups (10 1/2 ounces) rolled oats

1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups (7 7/8 ounces) dried cranberries
1 tablespoon grated orange rind

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Cream together brown sugar, sugar, butter and shortening. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Combine the salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, oats and flour in a separate bowl and add to the creamed sugar mixture. Stir until almost combined, add the cranberries and orange rind and finish combining. Put 2 tablespoonfuls of dough on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 7 to 9 minutes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Slow Cooker Sausage Barley Soup

Can a soup that has sausage in it ever be bad? I think my husband and I are trying to eat so healthy, that when we allow ourselves something like sausage, we go a little ga-ga.

This soup was really good, and it was a bit of a shocker. I did a mini-pantry raid for this, and although I purposefully bought barley to put into a soup, I wasn't planning on this specific recipe. So, I threw everything into the slow cooker in the morning, and walked away until dinner.

I was even excited to eat this the next day for leftovers, and it was just as good. It was a little thicker, but still had great flavor.

The original recipe had a diced carrot and a 10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach in it, and I swapped those out for a diced zucchini. I think more vegetables would be good in this soup, but isn't soup just a great vehicle for more veggies to begin with?

Slow Cooker Sausage Barley Soup
recipe adapted from

1 pound Italian sausage
1/2 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 (48 fluid ounce) can chicken broth (I used homemade)
1 zucchini, diced
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage, onion, and garlic until the sausage is evenly brown. Season with Italian seasoning. Remove from heat, and drain. In a slow cooker, mix the sausage mixture, chicken broth, zucchini, and barley. Cover, and cook 4 hours on High or 6 to 8 hours on Low. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Slow Cooker Applesauce

If you would have told me how different homemade applesauce and store bought applesauce are, I wouldn't have believed you. But wow, they are completely different.

Homemade applesauce is not grainy, it's smooth. And it actual tastes like apples, not sour grainy mush.

I saw bags of apples at the store for on sale, and thought I'd give it a try. I have been buying unsweetened applesauce jars for a few weeks, as it is a great snack for my son, but this homemade stuff is gold!

We ate almost the complete batch as a side with dinner. I think there is a whopping 1/2 cup stashed in the frig, and I bet that won't make it through the night.

Slow Cooker Applesauce
Recipe adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking

4 large apples, skinned, cored, and cut in quarters (I used 8 small)

Juice from 1/2 lemon 

1 tablespoon brown sugar 

1/4 cup water

Skin, core, and cut your apples into quarters. Place the pieces into a 4 quart crockpot. Add the juice from the lemon, and the water. Sprinkle brown sugar over top.

Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. When the apples are super tender, mash with a potato masher or large fork. I cooked mine for about 5 hours, and I mushed them up with a potato masher.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole

Here is the uber-frugal Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole, and I wasn't expecting much from it. I figured even if we ate a little bit, but weren't in love with it, I didn't throw too many expensive ingredients into the casserole.

But.... it was a really great dinner! My husband was pretty skeptical, but he was honestly surprised at how good it was! I added 2 diced carrots, and 1/2 tsp of curry powder to jazz it up a little, but I think any veggie could be swapped in. Plus, the cheese on top didn't hurt.

Plus it was dirt cheap, and I can make this casserole almost 4 times from a bag of lentils and a bag of brown rice.

Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole
recipe adapted from The Grocery Cart Challenge and 5 Dollar Dinners

3 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
3/4 cups green lentils, although any color will do
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Mix all ingredients except the cheese in a baking dish (I use an 11 x 7). Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes. Then remove the foil, add the cheese, and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Slow Cooker Mexican Beer Chicken

Monday nights are soccer practice, so it has also become our slow cooker night. So far this soccer season I've done spaghetti sauce with chicken sausage warming in the slow cooker and Slow Cooker Sticky Chicken Drumsticks. I'm hoping to re-try some family favorites but try some new slow cooker recipes, too.

I found this recipe lurking in the depth of my "To Try" folder, and I had some random beers hiding in my frig needing to be used. It felt weird to be cracking open a beer at 10 am.

Once time for dinner came, the chicken shredded up nicely, and the flavor of the chicken in the beer/taco seasoning mix was really good! I was very surprised and pleased.

The original recipe had a can of corn and black beans, but I like to keep things separate. My four year old will eat more if I do it that way, although I served corn on the side. We skipped the tortillas and ate it as taco salads.

Slow Cooker Mexican Beer Chicken
recipe adapted from Baking Serendipity

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (chicken thighs would work well, too)
1 cup salsa
1 12 oz bottle beer
1 packet taco seasoning (or 3 tablespoons homemade)

Place chicken breasts in the slow cooker. Top with salsa.

Pour beer into a tall glass, and dissolve taco seasoning in beer. (Make sure you use a container that gives you a lot of head room - mine foamed over once I added the taco seasoning!) Pour into slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred chicken with two forks. Drizzle with a little of the cooking liquid and serve.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

I love finding homemade versions of things because then I don't have to leave the house when I have a craving. My husband was out of town, and the boys were tucked into bed, and I, of course, was having a massive chocolate craving.  I thought of this recipe copied and stashed in my "Recipes to Try" folder.

The night I made this, I stirred it into milk to make chocolate milk. Oooooooooh baby. It got the chocolate craving all taken care of.  It was a little sweeter than the good stuff in the brown squirt bottle, but I didn't mind.

Now that we've been using this for about two weeks to make chocolate milk for late night snacks, (which has saved us from the late-night Sonic runs) I think the sweetness has mellowed a bit, but you do need less than store-bought stuff.

Chocolate Syrup
from The Tightwad Gazette II

1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the cocoa and the water in a saucepan. Heat and stir to dissolve the cocoa. Add the sugar, and stir to dissolve. Boil 3 minutes. Add the salt and the vanilla. Pour into a sterilized pint jar, and store covered in refrigerator. Keeps for several months.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tuna Burgers

It's a struggle figuring out how to get more fish into my family. Although, I can't blame them for my struggles to serve fish...I just don't get that excited for it! So this recipe looked like a great compromise.

I made 4 patties with 2 cans of tuna, and we ate them bun-less, I guess more like Salmon Patties. I loved the combination of chili sauce and mayo in the burgers, (reminded me of Bang Bang Shrimp). My husband and I loved ours, our two-year-old didn't touch them, but that wasn't a surprise.

Tuna Burgers

1 (7 oz) can tuna, drained and flaked
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons minced onion
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chili sauce
2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon (to taste) Old Bay Seasoning

Combine the first 4 ingredients. Blend next 3 ingredients. Stir into tuna mixture. Form 4 patties. Fry lightly in oiled skillet over medium heat about 5 minutes or until browned. Serve.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Repurposing Leftover Bread

I was inspired by this post at Cents to Get Debt Free to share my stash of frozen bread heels and leftover bread chunks....I know, sounds appealing, right? I throw the lonely, forgotten bread heels, leftover buns or french bread into a bag, and the pieces that I would normally throw away get re-worked into something new!

But I use that bag of bread heels and random bread pieces to make:

I make a big batch of bread crumbs and store them in the freezer so I can pull them out whenever I need them without having to lug out the food processor.

It's a great way to be frugal, economical, and pretty creative in the kitchen!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Apple Raisin Cookies

I made these for a kiddos playgroup because the cookie recipe seemed healthier with whole wheat flour, apple and raisins. Of course, with a nice glaze to compensate for all the healthy goodness!

I made the cookies the night before, then glazed them in the morning. The glaze hardened up really well, and they had great visual appeal! The kids at the playgroup ate them up (plus the moms!), and there was just enough leftover for our family to each have one with our dinner!

The glaze is definitely optional, and the cookies themselves were very cake-like, so if you aren't interested in the glaze, the cookies would be fine without it.

Apple Raisin Cookies
recipe adapted from Everyday Food

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
pinch ground cloves
1/2 cup (1stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced small
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and a pinch of cloves. In an electric mixer bowl, beat butter and brown sugar on high until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. With mixer on low, beat in half of the flour mixture, then milk and remaining flour mixture. Beat just until combined.
Fold in apples and raisins into dough with a rubber spatula. Drop dough in 2-tablespoonfuls, on baking sheets. Bake each sheet for approx 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are firm about the edges. Let cool completely.
In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar and 1 tablespoon water. Transfer to a zip-top bag. Snip a very small hole in one corner and drizzle glaze over cookies.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Medley

This was roasting away during college football this Saturday: a medley of butternut squash, a pound of carrots and a huge red onion.

I like to keep it simple and just cut them up into bite size pieces, toss together with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder and dried thyme. Then roast at 425 degrees for about an hour, stirring once or twice.

I am planning to serve this as a side dish to chicken and a kale salad, then whatever leftovers remain will be put on top salads for the week.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Homemade Cleaning Scrub

I purposefully avoid cleaning the shower. Actually, I avoid cleaning the bathroom for long stretches. I'm not proud of it, and my bathroom does stay non-radioactively gross by a little everyday attention (hello Daily 7 for a Highly Successful Household), but every now and then, the bathroom needs a good deep clean.

We recently renovated our master bedroom with new tile, and the master bathroom was off limits for a couple of weeks. (Darn you, backordered tile!) So with the time to kill with an unusable bathroom, I decided to do a deep clean on the shower and shower doors. My husband moved the shower doors outside, and I went on the hunt for a recipe for a homemade ('cause I'm cheap) and nontoxic shower scrubber.

I started with about 1/2 cup of baking soda and added a few squirts of Dawn. Easy peasy. Out to the shower doors. It worked great on all that funk, so I moved inside into the bathroom and did the shower itself. It worked fantastic on the walls - much better than any other homemade cleaner I've used. The floor of our shower was actually cream again! Who would have thought!

There was a little extra, so I left it in the Tupperware container I mixed it up in, topped it with a lid and left it in my laundry room. A few days later, I grabbed it to clean our other bathroom's tub, and it again worked really well.

I used my hand with rubber gloves on, and that's about all the extra oomph it needed but feel free to use a scrubbing brush or sponge!

I have used this scrub to clean most of the bathroom, but also my ceramic stovetop, a grungey coffeepot, and my stainless steel kitchen sink!

Homemade Cleaning Scrub
1 box Baking soda.
Dawn dish soap (enough to moisten the baking soda.)

Put baking soda in a bowl. Add Dawn dish soap, a small amount at a time, stirring after each addition.
You can make a smaller amount by using less baking soda for the base. When it's the pasty consistency you want, it's ready to use. Apply to surfaces, scrub, and rinse.