Friday, July 29, 2011

Bolognese Sauce

1 Tblsp unsalted butter
1 small onion chopped
1 rib celery finely chopped
1 carrot finely chopped
2 lb lean ground beef (or turkey)
salt and pepper
pinch nutmeg
1 c whole milk (I never use whole milk
1 C white wine
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes (or equivalent from your own garden)

This recipe calls for some upfront work.  I haven't tried this tip yet, but I have read that you can cut the liquids in half and just throw it all in the pot.  Vegetables do not HAVE to be sauteed.

Melt butter in large saucepan or dutch oven.  Add vegetables and saute until softened.
turn heat to high, add beef and brown
add seasonings
pour in milk and wine and bring to a boil
lower heat and cook at a lively simmer until most of the liquid evaporates
transfer to slow cooker and stir in tomatoes
cover and cook on low 8 hours
remove cover and stir
continue to cook until sauce slightly thickens

Until Next Time.....

Save money with a crock pot

I read a little fact I thought you might be interested in.  We all know we can save time and effort with a crock pot, but who knew you could save so much money?

Running a crock pot costs about $0.21 for 10 hours.
Running an electric oven costs about $2.51 for 2 hours..... yes, only two!
If you used your crock pot every day, that would be $76.65 a year.
If you used your oven for 2 hours every day, that would be $916.15 a year.

You could save $839.50 a year!  That could be a frugal beach vacation for two!!

Not to mention, who wants to run the oven in the heat of summer?  And with non-stick spray or crock pot liners, clean up is so easy.

Next post: how to adapt your recipes to the crock pot, and other tips for cooking with it.

Until next time.... He who tends to  a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who looks after his master will be honored.  Proverbs 27:18

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Meat Pie

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion chopped
1 10 3/4 oz can condensed vegetable beef with barley soup
1 10 3/4 oz can condensed golden mushroom soup
3 medium uncooked potatoes cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 medium carrots sliced 1/8 inch thick
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 box ready made pie crust

in a skillet cook ground beef and onion until no longer pink, drain
add rest of ingredients except crust, mix well
divide mixture between two ungreased 9 inch pie plates
cover with the two ready made pie crusts, seal and flute edge, cut slits in top
bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown.
Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

I made a couple of changes to this recipe.  First, after cutting the vegetables and while browning the ground beef, I microwaved the potatoes and carrots for about 3 minutes, stirring them halfway through.  Instead of making two pies, I put the whole mixture into a round 2 quart casserole and only used one crust.

At first I was a little leery of the idea of ground beef in a pot pie.  I was used to more of a stew beef cut.  But this turned out really well, and the people I served it to really liked it.  The soups give it a rich flavor.  If you are concerned about the sodium content, you can always get the lower sodium soups or the ones made with sea salt.

Until next time.....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hoppin' John

pic from minute rice

2 smoked pork hocks, or ham left on bones = 1 lb or so
2 c chicken stock or broth
1 small onion chopped
2 15oz cans black eyed peas rinsed and drained
1/2 lb smoked sausage cut in half lengthwise, then into 1 inch pieces
1/2 c uncooked instant rice
optional - add dash Old Bay Seasoning

spray 3.5 - 4 qt slow cooker with non-stick spray
place hocks or ham bones in crock
add 1 cup of broth, refrigerate other cup for now
add onion, peas, and sausage
cover and cook on low 8-10 hours
remove hocks or bones from slow cooker
pull meat from bones using two forks
discard any bones, skin or fat
return pork to crock
add other cup of broth and rice
increase to high heat
cover and cook 10 min or until rice is tender

Until Next Time.....

Going Whole Hog....or Beef

We have all noticed that the prices of everything are going up and the sizes are going down.  We are having to revamp recipes that call for 12oz packages that are now only sold in 10oz sizes, but cost more.  We know that coupons can save us money, if used correctly, but there isn't a coupon for everything we buy.  Specifically meat.

A lot of websites and blogs out there tell you to buy in bulk and that sales of certain items go in cycles of anywhere from 4-6 weeks.  So if Chicken tenders are on sale this week, buy enough for 6 weeks until they go on sale again.  The only problem?  Will they?  I have now been waiting about 8 months for pork tenderloin to go back on sale.  Something tells me it may not happen.  What to do?

Buy a whole or half hog, or a whole or side of beef.  Seriously!  Depending on the size of your family and the size of your freezer, this is the most economical choice out there.  Search for farmers or meat lockers in your area and get some price quotes.  You will actually pay two prices.  First you will pay a certain amount of live weight.  I think we paid $1.29 per pound live weight of a side of beef.  Then you will pay a certain amount per pound of processing weight.  I think we paid $.40.  You will not get the entire amount of live weight processed.  Around 600 lbs of live weight is going to get you a little over 300 lbs processed. So we roughly paid about $2.54 per pound for all the meat that went into our freezer.  We got better cuts of meat, and the leanest hamburger you can buy.  This should last our family about a year to 18 months, depending.

We have already seen the difference in our grocery spending by not buying any meat, (we still buy chicken at the store) yet we are not meat deprived by any means.  Then comes the fun part..... finding all of your beef or pork recipes and getting creative in the kitchen.  I will be posting some of my family's favorite ground beef recipes.... great dollar stretchers.... here in the next week or so.

By the way.... if you are wanting to do some of the chicken in a crock pot, Kroger has whole chickens on sale this week!

Until next time.... He will be like a tree planted by the water..... it has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:8 partial

Monday, July 25, 2011

Penny Pinching

When to pinch....that is the question.
I am all for helping others in any way that I can.  But at the same time I can be very cheap.  Where to draw the line is the dilemma.
For example, at certain gas stations you can get a 32oz caffeine free diet coke with a double shot of vanilla for 97 cents with tax.  So you pay with $1 and the cashier asks, "do you want your pennies back?"  If you say yes, you sound really cheap.  If you say no, you know it will go into that little dish thingy where you can pick out a few pennies if you need it so that you don't have to break a ten or twenty.
If I say yes, in a little over a month, I can have enough pennies to get a free coke.  That's some serious, and literal, penny pinching, but my point is that it all adds up.... whether you keep it or give it away.
I bet you have a jar or dish at home where you collect all the change from everyone's pockets, don't you? Most homes do.  So what do you do with that change?  If you have ever stopped to count it you realize that it can add up to quite a bit depending on how many people contribute to it and how long it has sat there.  My husband and I keep a jug of change, and when we decide we want to do something fun, like a one day road trip or a mini vacation we cash out the jug and use it for spending money.  We always have well over $100 in there by the time we decide we want to use it, and we never missed it while it was sitting there in the jug.
This year it will not be used for our fun.  Our Pastor just asked us yesterday to contribute every quarter we have in our purses and homes to "Feed the Need" where you can feed a child for only 25 cents.  Needless to say, I'll be taking all the quarters out of our jug for that this week.  At a glance I would say there is at least $50 in quarters in there.
So what's my point?  I'm saying to save your pennies.  They may not make much of a difference now, but added up they will later.  Whether that is more fun for you on a vacation, or an opportunity to help others, only the future can say.  So instead of leaving your pennies at the gas station OR TAKING pennies from the gas station, break your ten or twenty, and put the coins in a jar.  See how much you have this time next year.

Until next time..... The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the Will of God lives forever 1 John 2:17

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Leftover Chicken?

Here's one of a few recipes I have for leftover chicken.  You can use chicken from the crock pot from a previous post or you could use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.  You could probably even use leftover turkey.  I'll give you the original recipe, and then I'll tell you how I adapted it...

chicken hash
1 T oil
2 large baked potatoes peeled and diced (3 cups)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (could use canned)
3 med carrots shredded (8oz)
1 med onion coarsely shredded
1 12oz jar chicken gravy
1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper
heat oil in large non stick skillet over medium heat.  add remaining ingredients, stir to mix well, then press down with the back of a broad spatula.  Cook 8-10 minutes until crust forms on the bottom.  Turn in sections with the spatula.  Cook 5 minutes longer.  Flip onto a serving plate or serve from skillet.

I used 3 cups of frozen diced hash browns instead of the baked potato, and I used Lawry's garlic salt with parsley instead of regular salt.  I also had to use a little higher heat and a little longer time to get a crust on mine.  Everyone's stoves and skillets are different, so just watch it closely the first time you make it.

This was really good and so easy to make.  My husband is not a big fan of just plain leftover chicken so he was very happy to try this and he really, really liked it.  I found this recipe in a Woman's Day magazine.

Until next time, The Lord be with your spirit.  Grace be with you.  2 Timothy 4:22

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Money for Nothing? You Betcha!

Want to make some money without having to do anything?  No, don't go, I'm serious!  OK, you have to do one little thing.... switch banks!

So this applies to residents of Tennessee, but there are other banks in other states that do similar things.

We had our checking and safe deposit box with a well known, big chain bank.  We had an "interest bearing checking account".  Know how much interest we made every month? $1.16 on average.  Besides getting you a sweet tea at Mickey D's, what good is that going to do you? AND we had to keep a certain balance in there at all times.

So a friend tells me about another bank, First State.  You can start an account with only $25.  Each household can have two accounts.  The interest is currently 3.01% (change effective in October 2011) on up to $15,000 and the going rate on any amount thereafter.  We now make $90-$100 in interest every month.  Yes you read that correctly.  Now, there is not a branch in every city in Tennessee, but it is so worth looking into.

Here's the fine print......

  1. You have to sign up for E-statements, which means you don't get them in the mail, you print them off yourself.  All the better for us.  We are forever getting other people's mail.  Makes me wonder how much of my mail I'm losing.
  2. You have to have one automatic payment or automatic debit per month per account.  Again, in today's world, so easy.  I have direct deposit, and for the other account a bill is automatically paid every month.
  3. And finally, you have to use your debit card 15 times for each account in the month.  This one worried me at first.  I just didn't use debit cards.  I was cash, check or charge.  But it was really very easy.  Another thing you could do.... if you wanted two accounts but wanted to leave one to grow and only mainly use one, all you need to do is get 15 of those sweet teas from Mickey D's.  You were going to get them anyway right?
I was a little apprehensive about switching banks at first.  I thought it would be such a hassle.  It really wasn't.  And the bonus.... we also switched our safe deposit box and got a bigger one for a lower fee!  The only thing you need to be sure of is to leave enough money in your account at the old bank to cover any outstanding checks or automatic bills until you get them switched over.  Also leave it open long enough to be sure you switch over any direct deposits.  Once the automatic things have switched and all the checks have cleared, close that account and start making money!

Until next time.... Honor the Lord with your wealth, and the firstfruits of all your crops, then your barns will be filled to over flowing Proverbs 3:9-10a

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Choosing Simplicity

We have all heard about living more simply, and everyone has their own definition of what that is.  I have been "looking into it" for a couple of years now.  The thing about choosing simplicity is that you have to actually be ready to do it.  Just like an alcoholic, drug addict or someone with an eating disorder, you cannot change simply because people say you should.  You have to be ready and willing to do so.  And it's not easy.  What?!  Living simply isn't.... simple?  Not at first.  It takes effort and organization.  Once it is in place, just like any habit, it becomes second nature.

Yes, I heard what you just said.... "I don't have time"!  Bull feathers!  I used that excuse for years.  I had the time..... I just wasn't using it wisely.  And when I started thinking about what I should do, just the thought of it was so overwhelming, I did something else to escape it.  I got wrapped up in so many activities, books or even TV shows, that I simply "didn't have the time" to become more organized or change the way I lived.

My first step was deciding with a friend to have a yard sale.  (huh? I know, stay with me)  I had so much stuff everywhere that it was again, overwhelming to my organizational wants.  And because I decided to do it with a friend, I had a commitment that was harder to back out of.  I started by going room by room to rid things out that I didn't use or need.  And once again I got overwhelmed by all the places I had stuff to go through and I wanted to shut all the doors and drawers and just veg out in front of Investigation Discovery.  But the date was getting nearer and I was GOING to do it.  So I "simply" got out a notebook and started writing down every drawer, cabinet and bin I needed to go through.  Here's an example of our master bath....
my small drawer (in the vanity)
his small drawer
under the sink
top door of linen closet
bottom door of linen closet

Then I told myself I could read a chapter of a book in between each one.  Or do only one item very day after work, and one item every day after dinner.  I still got through the items, got to watch TV, and didn't feel overwhelmed.  In fact I felt pretty good getting to cross all that stuff off the list!  After doing a few rooms this way, I saw the fruits of my labor piling up and wanted to do more and more all at once.

The sale went really well.  I made over $800 dollars!!  Then here is the grand finale.  As we tore down from the sale, we made our list of leftover items, took them straight to Goodwill, and they never came back into the house!  Yes siree, that sale really inspired me.

So also is the Bible study I'm working on..... Choosing Simplicity, a Women of Faith study guide series.  God didn't intend for us to live with all this clutter in our lives, both physically and in all the activities we bury ourselves in.

Frugal Franny is my sharing, and holding myself accountable to developing this lifestyle.  I hope it helps you too, and please share your ideas with us as well.

Until next time..... Zechariah 8:17b... Keep your lives simple and honest

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chicken in a CrockPot and Stock

If we're going to save time and money, there is no better place to start than Chicken in a Crock Pot.  This is soooooo easy, and yummy, and you end up with more than one meal!!  First you should stock up on whole chickens when they are on sale at your favorite grocery store.  I got six when they were on sale for 69 cents per pound and threw them in the freezer.

Get out your crock pot, and spray it with non-stick spray. 
Throw the chicken in without any water....if you can, get that bag of giblets out and pitch it.  If your chicken is frozen solid, it might just have to stay in.
Season the chicken any way you like.  I use garlic salt and that's it!
Cover and cook on low about 7 hours.
This works for a chicken from 3.5-7 lbs.  If your chicken is on the smaller side, cook for maybe only 5-6 hours.

HERE'S THE FUN PART! Remove the chicken, but DO NOT throw away the drippings.  Debone the chicken and throw the skin and bones back in the crock pot with the juices.  So there is your chicken to eat plain or use in a recipe, etc. but now you will make your own.....

CHICKEN STOCK!  Add 5-7 cups of water to the bones and juices in the crock pot.  I also add an onion, some celery and carrot for added flavor and nutrients.  This is perfect especially when you have those vegetables that are a little limp and you might think of throwing them out.  Now turn the crock pot back on and leave it on low all night.  In the morning, strain the liquid and throw away all the solid parts.  Place the liquid in freezer containers if you plan on freezing it, but first let it stand for awhile and you'll be able to skim off any fat before freezing.

No time in the morning?  Or if your house is set up like mine, the kitchen is close to the bedroom and that cooking all night keeps waking me up.  Instead of starting your stock over night, remove the crock pot liner and put it in the frig.  When you get up in the morning, put the liner back in the crock pot and let it go all day while you are at work or busy doing other things.  Do the straining that evening.

This is one of my favorites....and next time I'll give you a recipe in which you can use some of that chicken.

Until next time......."The Earth is filled with Your love oh Lord." Psalm 119:64 NIV

Monday, July 18, 2011

under construction

as soon as I figure out the design, etc.  I'll be letting you know how to be a frugal, fun housewife!  Stay tuned!