Friday, September 28, 2012

The Frugal Kitchen: Carefully Hidden Vegetables Sloppy Joes

Here is a fast and sneaky (veggie wise) Sloppy Joe recipe that children like:

1 lb. ground beef, turkey or chicken
1 medium onion chopped
Any leftover, cooked vegetables, chopped to a fine consistency
3/4 cup V8 juice or tomato sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
white rolls/buns

Cook meat, onions and vegetables in a skillet until the beef is browned and the onion is translucent.  Spoon off any excess fat.  If you use turkey or chicken add a couple tablespoons of oil to skillet before browning.  Stir in the juice/tomato sauce, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and heat through.  Serve on the buns.

This is a quick, tasty meal with nicely camouflaged vegetables for our picky eaters.  Enjoy!

God bless,

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Frugal Kitchen: Easy Pot Roast

I love pot roast, but sometimes I am not in the mood for all of the prep work before it is put on to cook. I am talking about browning the meat and vegetables.  So I have come up with a simple way to get a tender, browned pot roast that is cooked in the crock pot.

Lightly oil your crock pot, then place in your roast.  Surround the roast with vegetables cut into uniform sizes, for even cooking.  Now sprinkle dry French onion soup mix over the top of the roast and vegetables.  Pour in water to about half way up the roast.  Steam from the cooking will keep the top of the roast moist.

I set my crock pot on high for six hours.  If you are going to cook it longer I would suggest the low setting.

After the roast is done I mixed two to three heaping tablespoons with water, then stirred this into the juices in the pot.  I let it cook covered, on low for another half an hour to thicken the juice into a gravy. The pot roast, vegetables and gravy were served over rice.  The roast was tender and tasty.

God bless,

Dooryard Garden: Fall Cleanup and Planting

The front dooryard garden took a beating this summer since I couldn't get out to keep it cleaned up or plant my usual summer flowers and herbs.  We had a pretty rainy summer and what I call witch grass took over.  DH took over the clean up a week ago and started with the planting for which I am very grateful.

Witch Grass

Our dooryard garden is right outside the front door and is usually planted with Florida native perennials, seasonal annuals, herbs and sometimes vegetables.  It also has our two lemongrass plants.  It is the garden that anyone passing our house sees.  It is very visible.

DH planted (from seed) basil, cilantro, and oregano.  He trimmed back the lemongrass and perennials and began planting some fall mums.  It's looking a little sparse right now, but will fill in soon.  We need to go to one of our County parks to get some free mulch.

One of the major tasks that I am in charge of is maintaining the micro irrigation system.  DH  told me that some of the sprinkler heads weren't working, so we spent part of a morning testing the system.  Most of the nonworking heads were clogged with a bit of dirt and were easily cleaned out with an unbent paper clip.  A couple of them are just worn out and need to be replaced.

We have two kinds of sprinkler heads in this micro irrigation system.  The older kind are fairly complicated with filters and shut off valves.  These tend to need alot of attention to keep them working. The newer kind, and the one I hope to completely transition to, are made by Rainbird.  They have no moving parts, are very basic and take almost no maintenance to keep them going.

Older Sprinklers

Newer, Simple Sprinklers

If we lived in a cold climate I would be cleaning up dead debris and heavily mulching the garden, paying extra attention to the perennials.  But, we live in Florida, so we are just starting our Fall gardening season.  I look forward to Fall and will keep you posted on how the gardens are doing.

God bless,

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Frugal Kitchen: Burrito Casserole

This is an easy casserole that uses foods that I usually have stored in my freezer and pantry.  It takes 15 minutes of prep time and 30 minutes of bake time.

Burrito Casserole

1 can pinto beans
1 can tomatoes with chilies
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 package shredded mexican cheeses (8oz.)
1 package flour tortillas

In each tortilla place a couple of spoonfuls of beans, tomatoes and cheese.  Roll into a burrito and place in a greased casserole pan.  Completely fill pan with burritos.  Some people use the inexpensive frozen burritos in order to skip this step, but it can get expensive.  Mix soup mix, juice from tomatoes and sour cream together in a bowl.  Pour over the burritos to cover.  Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.  Cover with foil, bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking for 10 minutes.

Add meat in your burritos if you wish.  It would be a good way to use leftover meat from previous meals.  Garnish with sour creme and some salsa if serving to guests.

My daughter, the famously picky eater, looked at me and said that this was good.  Be still my heart.

God bless,

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Homemade Bath Salts

This is another frugal Christmas gift idea.  Today I was given some fresh rosemary and I decided to make an invigorating herbal bath salt.

Find a decorative jar (found mine at Target), fresh herbs, essential oil (optional), vitamin E oil (could also use almond oil, olive oil or jojoba oil) and epsom salts.

Basic Ingredients

Place a cup of epsom salts in jar or bowl.  Finely chop your herbs to release their essential oils.  Today I am using rosemary which some people are sensitive to, so I recommend testing this herb on your inner elbow to make sure it won't irritate your skin.

Mix the chopped herb into the epsom salts.

This mixture smelled nice and strong to me so I chose to not add the essential oil.  If it is not fragrant then I would add 10-20 drops of essential oil.  Since I did not add essential oil I decided to add a heaping teaspoon of vitamin E oil.

Stir and stir again until the oil is mixed throughout the salt.  It will all come together, just keep working at it.  At this point it is ready to use as a bath salt.  If you want to turn it into a salt scrub add more oil (olive, almond or jojoba) until it reaches a scrub consistency.

I like to add a pretty shell collected off of our local beach to use as a scoop.

The lid of the jar can be labeled and decorated if you wish.  Get creative and enjoy!

God bless,

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Processing Peaches

It is peach time and it's so easy to peel peaches for cooking and canning if you follow a simple process. This method works beautifully on tomatoes too.

Set up your work area with a large pot of boiling (unsalted) water and a bowl filled with water and ice cubes.

 Place peaches in boiling water for only a minute or two.

Immediately move peaches to the bowl of ice water.

This process has loosed the skin on the peaches so they can easily be slipped off with a paring knife.

Now your peaches can be canned using your favorite recipe or refrigerated for future use.  If you plan on the latter make sure you treat the peaches with either citric acid (Fruit Fresh is one brand) or sugar.  If you don't treat them they will deteriorate rapidly.

Enjoy the summer bounty!

God bless,

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Knit Dishcloths For Christmas Gifts

One of the ways to save money at Christmas time is to make your gifts.  I like to make these homemade gifts not just pretty, but functional too.  For the last couple of years I have been knitting dishcloths using the patterns from the Monthly Dishcloths Yahoo Group.

Twice a month guest knitting instructors post the instructions for a patterned dishcloth.  Ten rows are given each day for a week.  It is easy to complete ten rows a day and fun to see what the completed pattern looks like at the end (you are never given a photo to look at in the beginning so it is a surprise).

These dishcloths are made with an inexpensive cotton yarn, so they are frugal and useful.  The multitude of colors available allows you to match someone's kitchen colors easily.

Get started now and you can get seven or eight clothes made in time for Christmas.  If you want to be more elaborate include the dishcloths in a basket with other kitchen items you have picked up on sale.

God bless,