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Granola Recipe

October 13th, 2008 at 07:43 pm

As requested, here's the granola recipe. The recipe was originally posted by Jodi on the Saving Advice Message Boards:

4 cups oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds (optional)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup maple syrup
scant 1/4 cup brown sugar
2 TBS canola oil
Dried fruit (to taste)

Combine oil and liquid sweetener in small pot. Heat to simmer. Mix oats, brown sugar, almonds and spices in large bowl. Pour heated sweetener/oil mix over oat mixture and toss to coat. Spread onto baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees fro 20-25 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add dried fruits (raisins, Craisins, dried cherries, etc) after removing from oven. Store in covered container after cooling.

NOTES: The type of oats doesn't matter: instant or old-fashioned will work. Do not over bake! When you remove granola from oven, it will not be crisp and crunchy, but the crunchiness will appear after it cools.

Depression Cooking

October 6th, 2008 at 10:39 pm

I lost my dear sweet grandmother in June of this year. Clara (the star of these videos) reminds me of my grandmother.

Depression Cooking with Clara:

Episode 1:

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Potato, Peas, and Pasta
Episode 2:
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Egg Drop Soup
Episode 3:
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Poorman's Meal

Staying Cool When it's H-O-T

June 9th, 2008 at 11:48 pm

We're in the middle of a heat wave and I sold my air conditioner a few weeks ago. What's a frugal gal to do?

Close all the windows and doors and draw the blinds. I'm surprised by how many people don't know this trick! As the temperature starts to rise, you want to trap the cool air in your house and keep the heat from seeping in. I've actually had people come into my house during hot weather and assume I have central air conditioning because the house is so much cooler than the outdoors. I don't have central air, but I do have I have an indoor/outdoor thermometer. Once I see the temperature outside is cooler than inside (probably around 9pm) I'll open everything up to let the cool air in. For safety reasons, I sleep with everything closed, but when I'm up in the morning I'll open everything up again until the temperature in the house starts to rise.

Break out the Crock Pot. No cook meals like salads are a great idea when the weather is hot, but I'm moving in a week and trying to eat down my pantry and avoid going to the store. Crock Pots are great for hot weather because unlike your oven or stove top, they contain most of their heat. Furthermore, if you have a porch, garage or basement you can let the Crock Pot work it's magic outside the living quarters to further prevent additional heat in the house.

Last night I found this unique recipe for

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Slow-cooker Chicken in Spicy Peanut sauce and Link is

Slow-cooker Chicken in Spicy Peanut sauce
. I was thrilled because I could use 2 cans of tomatoes AND the remainder of my peanut butter plus the 2 chicken breasts that have been in the freezer for GodKnowsHowLong. I threw the ingredients in the Crock Pot and plugged it in in the basement before I went to work. When I got home, I put some rice in the rice cooker and plugged it in on the front porch. Before long, I had a hot meal and a cool house!

Cooking from the Pantry: Afghani Lentil Casserole

May 28th, 2008 at 01:21 am

I was clicking through old entries and couldn't help but notice how how long it's been since I've posted any recipes!

As I've alluded, I'm getting ready to move and trying to eat up the foods in my pantry. This has led to some ho-hum meals like green bean casserole, but also to tonight's Afghani Lentil Casserole. The recipe calls for lentils, canned tomato sauce (although I used canned diced tomatoes tonight), lasagna noodles, an onion, plain yogurt, and spices. The ingredients are probably things you have in your kitchen, too. Unlike many recipes that utilize kitchen staples, this one is pretty original.

1 large onion -- chopped
1 cup green or brown lentils -- picked over and washed
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups tomato sauce (I used 1-14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coriander (I used fresh cilantro)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (I used paprika)
9 lasagna noodles
3 cloves garlic -- chopped
2 cups fat-free yogurt
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
vegetable cooking spray
1 tablespoon mint

Saute onions until golden. Stir in the lentils and add the vegetable stock.

Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add tomato sauce, salt, coriander, cumin, pepper and cayenne, simmer 30 minutes.

Cook noodles. Combine yogurt, flour and garlic, stir well. Spray a 13x9 inch baking pan, put half yogurt on the bottom, layer with 1/2 noodles, 1/2 lentil sauce, repeat ending in lentil sauce. Sprinkle mint over top and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

Adapted from :
"A cross between Syrian Rishtah from The Versatile Grain and the Elegant Bean: A Celebration of the World's Most Healthful Foods by Sheryl and Mel London

(See the little rose plant on the table? It was an impulse by at the grocery store for $2.99. Being frugal is great, but who can resist beauty?)

Crock pot extravaganza and Side Stream Income

February 29th, 2008 at 03:26 am

Sidestream Income:
$1509.93 old total
$40.00 babysitting
TOTAL: $1549.93

I made $40 babysitting last night.

I've also been working really hard this month to eat from my pantry and freezer. I should run the numbers and see if my grocery bill was any different this month.

I've also been making great use of my beloved Crock Pot:

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Tonight's creation used up some bulgur I've had on the shelf for some time. I skipped the parsley because it would have required a trip to the store. I didn't precook anything and just tossed everything in and cooked on low all day. I also used homemade
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chicken broth made from a chicken carcass (mmmm, tasty) I had stored in the freezer. The end result of the bulgur pilaf was decent. Not something I LOVED, but good enough. The chicken broth, on the other hand, was great. I really like how the recipe has you puree the chicken meat and vegetables into the broth rather than just toss them. It gives the broth a richer flavor and adds more nutrients.

Leftovers + Creativity

February 12th, 2008 at 02:19 am

I love being able to make dinner using odds and ends in the kitchen.

Last night I threw the following into the Crockpot:

1/2 diced onion
1 diced green pepper
Tomato Sauce (leftover from a 28 oz can I opened last week for homemade pizza)
1- 8 oz package tempeh, crumbled (purchased for a recipe I intended to make weeks ago but never did)
Leftover black beans from

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my dried-bean experiment
2 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

I turned it to low and let it work it's magic while I was at work all day.

Any guesses to what this made?


Vegetarian Sloppy Joes! I spooned the "meat" onto a roll with some lettuce... the result was super yummy, frugal, and easy.

Dried Beans

February 4th, 2008 at 11:59 pm

My blog's title is due in part to my fondness for the humble bean. Legumes are wholesome, tasty, versatile and cheap, what else could you want in food?

Despite my bean penchant, I admit always buying the canned rather than dried variety. Once, as a college student, I tried to cook dried beans and the result was less than appetizing. My local grocery stores sells a variety of canned 15.5 oz beans for $0.55 each, so dried beans hardly seem worth the hassle.

However, yesterday I threw caution to the wind and cooked up some dried beans in the Crockpot. The result was superb! I mixed 1 cup dried beans with 4 cups water and 1 bay leaf, turned the crock pot on high and ~5 hours later, I had a pot of tasty, fragrant beans.

I used about 3/4 in a chili recipe and will use the rest later this week.

I'm converted!

Frugal Food!

November 19th, 2007 at 01:47 am

Turkey gyros are one of my favorite frugal meals. When I was working as a personal chef, it was also one of the favorite meals of my client, too. Unbeknownst to them, it was a simple recipe they could easily have made themselves!

When made with ground turkey from Aldi ($0.89 / lb), the meals costs ~$1.25 / serving. Technically, a gyro is supposed to be shaved lamb, pork, beef or chicken. This recipe is neither shaved nor the appropriate meat, but the flavor is delicious so let us allow the technicality slide!

Turkey Gyros

1 lb. lean ground turkey
1/2 C. onion
2 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/8 tsp. black pepper
4 7" pita bread

Cucumber Mint sauce (to be served on top of gyros)

1 C. non-fat plain yogurt
1 C. low-fat sour cream
1 medium cucumber, seeded and chopped
1/4 tsp. dried mint
1/2 tsp. salt
dash black pepper

Mix all turkey ingredients in non stick skillet and brown. In bowl combine all Cucumber Mint sauce ingredients, stir. Spoon hot meat mixture over pita and top with sauce.

If you donít have a cucumber or mint (I didnít tonight) they can easily be omitted and your end result will still be great.

I stuff the filling into whole wheat pitas (purchased and frozen from my summer trip to the

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Freihoferís Outlet), and filled with diced grape tomatoes and spinach from last weekís
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Aldi trip. Healthy, flavorful and original!

Not For Bean Counters

June 20th, 2007 at 04:43 pm

Mark Bittman from the New York Times examines the illustrious Bean Salad:

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Not for Bean Counters. Check out his instructional video, too:
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A Hill of Beans.


Celery: Aldi Style

April 15th, 2007 at 11:14 pm

I bought this celery from Aldi exactly one week ago:

Note to self: Aldi's great produce prices probably mean a shorter life once purchased. We were able to eat about half of the $0.99 purchase before it headed south for retirement.

I diced the remaining limp celery to freeze. I can through it in a soup or something.

Nothing Says Springtime like... Borscht?

April 5th, 2007 at 12:54 am

Mr. Bean is out of town again. While he's away, I try to cook foods that I enjoy but he doesn't (or as I like to think-- foods for which he lacks the culinary sophistication to enjoy ;-)

Tonight I made Vegetarian Borscht.

I decided to make borscht when I spotted fresh beets at the grocery store earlier today (something the store doesn't always carry). There was also a huge display of canned beets. Does anyone know if beets part of the Passover tradition- or was the onslaught of beets just a coincidence? I am from a Ukrainian heritage, so I grew up eating a lot of beets, but as far as I know beets aren't part of a traditional American Easter.

Despite the tower of canned beets, I went with the fresh. I've never tried canned beets, but I was tempted this afternoon since peeling and cutting fresh beets is such a messy task. I'll use the beet greens for another recipe (maybe a lasagna?) I also found a use for those pesky pink skins:

While my soup was cooking, I boiled the skins a mixture of water and vinegar and then tossed in a few eggs. Viola! Natural pink dye for Easter eggs!

Kitchen Staple Creation

March 28th, 2007 at 12:31 am

We returned from our weekend away to a refrigerator that looks like this:

[At least there's some good beer to drink whilst we feast on Country Crock and cat food.]

Iím having an especially busy week at school and donít have a lot of time to go shopping. Plus, I need some time to think through my grocery shopping plan of attack since I will be in the vicinity of an Aldi next week.

Sounds like itís time for another Kitchen Staple Creation!

We all know pasta is a great solution for meals in a hurry. Some nights a bowl of pasta topped with marinara from a jar and a handful of frozen veggies hits the spot. But other times, Iím really in the mood for something more imaginative.

Penne with Spinach and Raisins is definitely one of my favorite ďGo ToĒ pasta meals for when sauce from a jar won't do the trick. The bite of the red pepper combined with the sweetness of the golden raisins is almost enough to make you think youíre in Sicily (almost). Golden raisins were not a typical staple in our house, but now I always keep a box on hand specifically for making this dish.

Penne with Spinach and Raisins

Olive Oil or Cooking Spray
4 gloves garlic, crushed
10-12 ounces spinach (I use frozen)
1 14.5 oz can Garbanzo Beans, rinsed and drained
Ĺ cup golden raisins
Ĺ tsp salt
ľ - Ĺ tsp crushed red pepper (depending on taste)
Ĺ cup chicken or vegetable broth
12 ounces cooked whole wheat penne

1. In large sautť pan, sautť garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Cook until golden. Add spinach, beans and spices. Cook ~ 5 minutes, stir in broth. Heat through.
2. Add cooked penne to spinach mixtures. Toss and enjoy!