Posted in Frugal Recipes, Sustainable Living

Homemade Butter and Strawberry Jam [RECIPE]

I love Costco. I mean, how can you not, right? You wander into this members-only warehouse that is full of everything you can think of. As you meander through the giant aisles you are offered free samples of cooked meats, noodles, and fresh toast. What’s not to love? I am absolutely not getting paid for anything or a spokesperson when I say I have found the. best. sandwich bread on the planet! Y’all I am not even kidding. There I was pushing my cart, going down my grocery list when all of a sudden my family veers off to grab a sample. I think nothing of it and continue shopping. Moments later my husband is shoving a piece of toast in my face saying, “try this!” so reluctantly I did. Wow…. it was absolutely fantastic! I present to you: Alpine Valley Bread. This Super Grains bread has chia seeds, quinoa, Teff, and Kamut in it. Not only is it extremely healthy but all the fibers make you actually feel full without all the sugar. Buy it… I promise you will enjoy it 🙂

 

Needless to say I picked up several loaves and brought them home. Over the past week I have noticed that those leftovers from meals or fruit snacks keep getting pushed farther and farther into the back of my fridge. One of those items was a huge crate of strawberries. Costco sells produce for excellent prices but sometimes I just can’t eat the fruit fast enough before it begins to turn. My strawberries were no exception. So I began to wonder, “What can I do with these strawberries before they go rotten?”. It was then that I decided to make several jars of strawberry jam! I followed this simple recipe for Strawberry Jam and my little and I made a lovely batch of fresh jam. Our PB & J sandwiches are set for quite some time!

Homemade Strawberry Jam
Homemade Strawberry Jam

Then I woke up this morning and peered into my refrigerator. The carton of heavy cream was right there on the top shelf from the Farfalle with Salmon and Leeks recipe I made the other night. This time I knew just what to do. It had been a while since I’d made homemade butter, but I was in the mood… and it would pair perfectly with my Alpine bread! Here is a simplified recipe of how to make homemade butter. I hope you all enjoy these recipes and use up your own leftovers in a fun way. Have a beautiful day everyone! ❤

Ingredients for Homemade Butter
Ingredients for Homemade Butter

Ingredients:

– A stand mixer

– 1 carton of heavy whipping cream

– Sea salt

Directions:

1. Begin by pouring the cream into your stand mixer. If you have a lid for your stand mixer, attach it now. If not, you can always take several pieces of saran wrap or aluminum foil and make a makeshift cover. Both work just fine.

2. Begin whipping the cream on High (7 or 8 on the standard Kitchenaid mixer) and let it whip for 8-10 minutes. After about 5 minutes you will notice your heavy cream has turned into delicious whipped cream. Perfect for a pie topping! But keep going… those stiff peaks will break and begin to separate.

After 10 minutes the butter and milk will separate...
After 10 minutes the butter and milk will separate…

3. After 10 minutes turn off your mixer and strain out the buttermilk from the butter. Using a wire mesh colander works best for this step. 

4. Now here is the fun part. You get to decide what kind of butter you would like to have! I went with a cinnamon and honey butter, but you can also do rosemary butter, garlic butter, or traditional sea salt butter. Sprinkle a bit of salt and any other spices/herbs you desire into the butter. Pour the butter clumps into a mixing bowl and knead into one solid mixture. I used plastic medical gloves for this part. They are amazingly handy to have in the kitchen! 

5. Tada! You have your butter. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 days. This butter does NOT have preservatives so you should plan to use it quickly.

Yay! Homemade Cinnamon-Honey Butter!
Yay! Homemade Cinnamon-Honey Butter!
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Posted in Frugal Recipes

Farfalle with Salmon and Leeks

On weeknights I like to keep things simple. Come 5 PM my family is romping through the door hungry, tired, and in need of a nourishing meal. This pasta dish is so simple that even the cook who hates cooking can make it! I have to share with you a comical moment that happened this evening. Now I have made this dish countless times. I found it in the America’s Test Kitchen “7 Ingredients or Less” Magazine, and by now the pages have been dog-eared many, many times.

Anyway, there is a part in the recipe (which you can read below) where you pour in a cup of white wine and let it cook, covered, while the 2 salmon fillets cook in the pan with it. As I placed my salmon in the pan with my sauteed leeks and poured in my white wine I covered the pan. The aroma began to circulate through my kitchen and steamed up through the cervices in the lid. I peered over the pan and inhaled. Mmmmmm! My eye has a natural attention to detail when I’m cooking and I thought, perhaps, I should give the leeks a quick stir as it was cooking. Now mind you my gas flame was on high and I’m cooking white wine. All of a sudden I lifted the lid and my pan turned into a flambe! Now this is the part where I should have gone, “Oh gosh!” and freaked, right? But I didn’t. Instead I just blinked in surprise, and turned down the flame which extinguished the pan and the food was completely fine. Perhaps I was channeling my inner Chef Gordon Ramsey? (lol).

Farfalle with Salmon and Leeks
Farfalle with Salmon and Leeks

I hope you all love this simple, low-ingredient recipe as much as I do. Have a wonderful night everyone! ❤

Farfalle with Salmon and Leeks

Recipe by: America’s Test Kitchen

(Serves 4 to 6 people)

Ingredients:

2 pounds leeks

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

2 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets, 1 1/4 inches thick

1 cup dry white wine (I used a simple, Sauvignon Blanc)

3/4 cup of heavy cream

1 pound Farfalle (i.e. one box)

Directions: 

1. Trim and discard root and dark green leaves from leeks. Cut leeks lengthwise and chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Sautee leeks in a pan with the 2 tbsp. of butter until tender, about 7 minutes.

2. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and place into the skillet with the leeks. Add the white wine and cook covered until the salmon is just cooked through, about 6 minutes. Remove salmon and move to a plate to keep warm. Stir cream into skillet and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes, then remove from heat, cover, and let rest for 2 minutes.

3. Meanwhile cook the Farfalle according to direction, or until Al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the sauce and salmon and toss gently to combine. As the juices coat the noodles gently break apart the salmon into bite-sized pieces. season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot.

** I garnished with a bit of grated fresh, Parmesan Cheese to give extra flavor. ** 

 

Posted in Frugal Recipes

Battle of the Celebrity Hotdogs! [RECIPE]

It was battle of the celebrity hotdogs tonight here in mi casa. For ages I have eaten countless hotdogs usually the same way: grilled, a squirt of ketchup and topped with diced onions…. hold the mustard. But nowadays hotdog making is practically an art! Take for example La Perrada de Edgar in Miami, FL. As I sat watching Anthony Bourdain’s “The Layover” show, I saw him scarf down hotdogs from this famous weiner restaurant that included: the Colombian hotdog, the Edgar Special hotdog, and the Super Edgar Special hotdog. (Seriously… you have to check out their website, folks! They take hotdogs to a whole new level).

By the end of the episode, even I, a mostly-vegetarian hippie, was jonsing for a hotdog. But my need for a good ballpark dog didn’t stop there. Oh no. Then came along Celebrity Chef David Chang. In “Mind of a Chef” David Chang takes us through many of his favorite New York spots, including secret bar, PDT. Not only is he close friends with the bar owners, but they even named a hotdog after him. This hotdog is appropriately named the “Momofuku Hotdog”. Just in case you didn’t know, Chef Chang founded the Momofuku Restaurant that eventually branched out to many more locations. This hotdog is a large, all-Beef frank wrapped in bacon that is fried and then topped with Kimchi. I wanted to lick the TV screen.

Now I am far from the Big Apple so getting my hands on an authentic Momofuku hotdog would be a bit tricky so I decided to make my own version. Coincidentally I recently just purchased the “Kimchi Chronicles” cookbook written by Celebrity Chef Jean-Georges Vongreichten and his wife, Marja. In their cookbook, they too have a Kimchi hotdog. Then it dawned on me: What if I prepare both hotdogs according to the recipes and have a hotdog face off? The Battle of the Celebrity Hotdogs was born!

For both hotdogs I used a Hebrew National 100% Beef Frank. Both Kimchi toppings came from a standard store-bought kimchi jar, but, the Kimchi Chronicles hotdog has a twist to it (from their recipe) which I will detail below.

The Momofuku Hotdog
The Momofuku Hotdog

 

For the Momofuku hotdog I began by wrapping two pieces of maple bacon around the hotdog and skewering it. Next I placed it on a broiling pan on HIGH and cooked it until it was nice and crispy. While it was broiling, I diced up some Kimchi and toasted a hoagie roll. While I could not find what (if any) spread was put onto the bun, I decided to put Mayonnaise on the bun because Chef Chang loved hotdogs with Mayonnaise. (Watch “Mind of a Chef” on Netflix to hear him rave about how much he loved mayo. on hotdogs).

For the Kimchi Chronicles hotdog I began by skewering the hotdog and broiling it on HIGH until it was cooked through. Meanwhile I prepared the Kimchi. First, dice up 1/2 cup of Kimchi. In a mixing bowl add 2 teaspoons of honey, and 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar. Slather the hotdog bun with Korean hot mustard, place the hotdog in the bun, and top with the kimchi mixture.

The Kimchi Chronicles hotdog
The Kimchi Chronicles hotdog

 

Results:

According to my better half (who tried and thoroughly enjoyed both), the Korean hot mustard is very hot, so consumers beware. However, if you have a love for all things spicy you might lean towards the Kimchi Chronicles hotdog because the honey puts a nice sweet, punch into the otherwise sour Kimchi. However, the mayonnaise was a nice smooth, contrast to the sour Kimchi on the Momofuku hotdog. When asked which one he would eat again the winner was clear:

WINNER: The Momofuku Hotdog.

Posted in Frugal Recipes

Beer, Brats, and Barley Soup

Do you remember the shrimp and sausage recipe from last night? I am the type of girl where I hate to let anything go to waste. Like many of you out there so often I use part of an ingredient and then as I continue cooking other dishes those half-ingredients get pushed further and further back into my refrigerator. Well not today, folks!

I was on a mission to use up the leftover sausage. I also had leftover barley from St. Patrick’s Day in the pantry. This recipe comes to you courtesy of the Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, though I added barley to my soup. I also did not have fennel seeds or sage, so I substituted those spices for thyme, and rosemary. It worked out just fine. This simple, hearty soup consists of a beef and beer broth with salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme. Sausage is browned and combined with onions, carrots, and cabbage. As the soup boils the bitter beer taste lessens and what is left is a smooth, savory soup. I love it! while admittedly I had to pick out my sausage (because for health reasons I am unable to eat meat) I enjoyed the flavors and taste of everything else. The best part? This soup is cheap and goes a long way! We will definitely have leftovers for lunch. I hope you all enjoy this recipe and have a wonderful day! ❤

Beer, Brats, and Barley Soup!
Beer, Brats, and Barley Soup!

 

Ingredients:

12 ounces of ground pork (or leftover Italian sausage removed from its casing)

1 medium onion, chopped

 

1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried sage, crushed

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 14-ounce cans lower sodium beef broth

1 12-ounce can of light beer (I used Bud Light)

2 medium carrots, thickly sliced

2 cups shredded green cabbage

4 1/2-inch-thick slices of whole grain bread (I used a store-bought Baguette)

 

Instructions:

1. In a large saucepan cook pork, onion, fennel seeds, sage, and pepper about 10 minutes or until pork is browned and onion is tender, stirring to break up pork as it cooks. Drain off fat if necessary.

 

2. Add broth, beer, and carrots. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Add cabbage. Cook covered for about 5 more minutes or until carrots and cabbage are tender.

3. Ladle soup into bowls. Serve with a piece of warm bread. Enjoy!

Nutrition Info:

PER SERVING: 215 Cal., 4 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 59 mg chol., 579 mg sodium, 15 g carb., 4 g fiber, 24 g pro.,

Posted in Frugal Recipes

I Love the Taste of Spring [RECIPE]

I am a creature of habit. I am also a creature of comfort. My family and I live minimally. We delight in the simple things in life. A delicious meal, a warm bed, and clean clothes make up the fibers of our life. Quality, family time defines our weekends. That being said, I get an absolute adrenaline rush and a burst of pride when I cook an amazing meal for my family. Cooking is an expression of love. With Spring finally here I have been aching to bust out the grill and cook lighter, healthier, and simpler.

IMG_1016

 

I found this recipe in “Better Homes & Garden: Low-Calorie Magazine (2015)”. Browsing through the grocery store check out line I saw it, picked it up, and figured I might find a recipe or two worth cooking in it. Boy, did I ever! This recipe is called “Shrimp & Sausage Boil”. Ladies and Gents, this recipe is FANTASTIC! And I am here to share it with you so you can incorporate it into your own dinner menu. The best part of this dinner: everything is cooked in aluminum foil packets so clean up is minimal. Put it on paper plates and you have an easy, cheap, and delicious dinner! Enjoy the recipe everyone and have a fantastic day! ❤

Shrimp & Sausage Dinner! Yum!
Shrimp & Sausage Dinner! Yum!

 

Ingredients:

– 1 lemon

– 1 bunch of fresh parsley

– fresh or frozen shrimp (1-1.5 lbs. tail on and de-veined.) ** I used frozen shrimp **

– 1 package of Andouille sausage (or mild Italian sausage if you can’t find Andouille)

– frozen corn on the cob, chopped into quarter pieces

– Baking potatoes (1 per person)

– Olive oil

– Salt, pepper, and Old Bay Seasoning

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and prepare your baking potatoes. Clean each potato well and pat dry. Taking a fork, stab each potato several times around the tuber with the tines of the fork.

2. Place the potato on a piece of aluminum foil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, and a light drizzle of olive oil. Wrap up the potato to prevent the oil from leaking and place in the oven for 60 minutes.

3. While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the shrimp and sausage. If you are using frozen shrimp, get a large mixing bowl and place the shrimp (with tail on) in the bowl. Rinse under lukewarm water and pat dry with a paper towel.

4. Heat a small bit of oil in a skillet and prepare the sausage. Slice the sausage into bite sized pieces and drop into the hot oil. Brown in the skillet and then transfer into the bowl with the raw shrimp.

5. Meanwhile, bring a small pot with water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Place corn on the cob (chopped into quarter pieces) into the water and boil for 10 min.

6. When the potatoes are finished place on a rack to cool. REDUCE the heat in your oven to 375 degrees.

7. Sprinkle salt, black pepper, and Old Bay Seasoning over the sausage and raw shrimp in the bowl and mix, mix, mix! (Use your hands and get dirty 🙂 )

8. Place Aluminum sheets down and spread equal portions of the shrimp, sausage mixture plus 1 corn on the cob in each packet. Fold the ends up to prevent leaking and place the packets directly onto the oven rack.

9. Cook for 12 minutes (No longer! Trust me on this one ❤ ).

10. Open up the packets, place on a paper plate, and garnish with parsley and lemon wedges. (Give each shrimp a small squirt of fresh lemon. The citrus taste really pulls the dish together so don’t leave it out 😀 ). Enjoy!

Posted in Frugal Recipes

$50 Budget Recipe #2: Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot

Hello Everyone!

Yesterday I cooked Mujaddara (a Lebanese rice and lentil dish) as part of my $50 budget cooking challenge. Tonight I made the Italian dish, Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot. Wow was it delicious! I’ll admit that during the weeknights, especially after my child’s extracurricular activities, I have little time or energy to cook. I was drawn to this Vegetarian meal because of it’s simplicity but also because of the total cooking time: 20 minutes.

Beth from Budget Bytes originally posted this wonderpot recipe over on her blog and calculated the total cost for all the ingredients to be: $8.05. How fantastic is that?! The only modification that I made to this recipe was, I did not have Feta cheese on hand to add as a garnish. Instead, I used Cotija cheese and it worked perfectly! Yay for improvising!

Spinach & Artichoke Wonderpot
Spinach & Artichoke Wonderpot

 

Alright so here are the ingredients:

-Fettuccine (1 box)

– 5 cups of Vegetable broth

– 1 can of diced tomatoes, liquid removed

– 1 small package of frozen spinach

– 1 package of button (white) mushrooms

– 1 (14 oz.) can of Artichoke hearts

– 1 yellow onion

– a dash of oregano

– a dash of thyme

– salt and pepper to taste

– 2 tbsp. olive oil

For cooking instructions please see Beth’s recipe for Spinach and Artichoke Wonderpot.

Alright now for the most important part: How does it taste? This main dish is light in flavor. Mind you it is not bland. The oregano and thyme resonate through the dish, along with the diced tomatoes to create a simple marinara-esque broth that is both pleasurable and not overbearing. As someone who is accustomed to strong flavors I had to adjust to such a light dish. But I would definitely cook this dish again for several reasons:

1. It is family approved: My whole family had seconds on this pasta dish. (Even my D.H. had thirds lol)! But it was nice to see everyone diving into the entree so eagerly.

2. It is budget friendly: Nothing in this dish was extravagant to purchase at the store. The most expensive item was the can of artichoke hearts which I purchased for $2.99.

3. It is fast to cook: As I stated previously, during the weekdays I need fast, healthy recipes. This meal covered both of those needs.

4. It is Vegetarian: My family and I tend to eat more plant-based meals. While it has been a while since we indulged in a pasta dish, I love dinner meals that are loaded with delicious vegetables.

I hope you all head on over to Budget Bytes and give this recipe a try. Have a wonderful day everyone! Until next time ❤

 

Posted in Frugal Recipes

Cooking Mujaddara is a Lesson in Patience

If you have been following along in my blog, today was my first budget dinner. This week I challenged myself to spend no more then $50.00 for dinners all week. After hunting for recipes that were both nutritious and delicious I came up with several winners. Mujaddara was my first experiment. Admittedly I have a tendency to skim-read over things at times. As I browsed Budget Bytes, I was impressed by the minimal amount of ingredients in this recipe.

Mujaddara, as described by Beth of Budget Bytes, is a Lebanese dish featuring rice and lentils. I was curious to cook this Middle Eastern staple that, here in America, we can relate to as red beans and rice. What I didn’t expect (and this was totally my fault) was how long the dish would take. In a world where we are looking for quick, easy, and cheap… Mujaddara is easy to prepare… and it is certainly cheap… but it is NOT quick!

The result of this delicious low-and-slow recipe.
The result of this delicious low-and-slow recipe.

That being said, let me assure you: It is well worth the wait!

You begin by chopping up 4 yellow onions into thin rings. Drop them into a large cooking/stock pot with a bit of olive oil on the bottom and let them slowly caramelize over LOW heat. Stir about every 5 minutes for 1 hour. remove half of the cooked onions to garnish the rice at the end.

Next, add your spices. You’ll want to put in a teaspoon (I guesstimated because I’m impatient like that) of Allspice, Cumin, and Ground Cloves. As the spices hit the onions the aroma that waifs up is… delicious.

Next you’ll want to pour in 2 1/2 cups of Vegetable stock and stir it around the pot. Then add 1 cup of long-grain rice. I used Jasmine rice, as well as 1 cup of brown lentils. turn your heat up to HIGH and bring to a boil.

Once everything is boiling, turn your heat down to LOW, cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes.

Now let me pause here and note that this recipe never called for salt or pepper. My inner chef was literally twitching as I discovered this lack of seasoning on the ingredient list. “How good can this dish be if there isn’t any salt in it?!” my inner voice cried. But let me re-assure you again: It doesn’t need it. I don’t know how… or why… but it is simply divine.

After 30 minutes of cooking, turn OFF your flame and let the pot sit (still covered!) to rest for an additional 10 minutes. Then remove the lid, stir with a spoon to fluff everything. Serve hot and garnish with the cooked onions you set aside.

Yum yum yum! Well done Beth! I hope you all try out this super cheap ($3.45 to be exact) recipe and tell me what you think! Until next time all 🙂