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How to Propagate Basil, Grow and Turn it Into the Most Amazing Pesto

While I came bearing gifts and lunch to celebrate my friend Sharon’s Birthday, I left with a surprise parting gift. She taught me how to propagate basil.

collage showing fresh basil being propgated in a paper cup then planted in a pot

How to propagate basil

As we were walking to my car, I casually reached down to admire her ginormous basil plant. Oh, that earthy, delightful fragrance! With that, she pinched off a couple of stems and suggested that I stick them in water for a few days. “They’ll grow roots and then you can plant them!”

And that’s exactly what happened just two weeks later, as you can see in the photos above. Yes, in a paper cup.

propagate:  to produce a new plant using a parent plant (of a plant or animal) to produce young plants.

Not only did the basil grow massive roots, those sprigs nearly doubled in size. That’s when I filled a pot with planting soil and gave my little crop of basil a  permanent place to thrive. Soon, I’m going to pinch off a few sprigs to propagate another pot of basil. And who knows? Maybe another and another.

From basil to pesto

If you’ve been around this blog for any time at all, you can predict what’s to follow. I’ve got Christmas on my mind. After all, it is July. It’s time to come up with yet another way to turn summer’s bounty into gifts for the Holidays.

Given how easy it is to grow basil, this year I’ll be making gifts of pesto—specifically Pesto Genovese (peh-sto geh-no-VEH-zeh).

Whether you grow it in your garden or in a container (it is so easy and probably not too late in the season to plant) or find it at a produce stand or farmer’s market, basil is the main ingredient in this gourmet food item. It is sure to please just about everyone on your gift list this holiday season. It’s consumable, unique, and absolutely the right size and color.

Homemade pesto sauce with basil and pine nuts in white mortar over old wooden table

Pesto Genovese

Traditionally, Pesto Genovese is made with a marble mortar and pestle because the steel blades of the food processor tend to bruise the basil, making it very dark green and slightly bitter. But it’s long and tiring work with the mortar and pestle. But not to worry! This recipe uses a food processor plus a few tricks involving ice. In 15 minutes you will have a very delicious pesto sauce, bright green and tasty—not at all bitter!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiment, sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Chill Tools: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 199kcal
Cost: $4

Equipment

  • Food processor (or in a pinch, a blender see Note 1)
  • large bowl

Ingredients

  • 60-65 small basil leaves (50 gr. or 2 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin oil
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (70 gr. or 2.5 oz. tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons Pecorino cheese cut into small pieces (30 gr. 1 oz.)
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts (15 gr., or 5 oz.)
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste (sea salt, kosher salt)
  • ice

Instructions

  • Place the bowl and blades of a food processor in the refrigerator or freezer until the tools are very cold, about 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, get the basil leaves ready by washing them in cold water.
  • Place the clean basil in a large bowl with plenty of ice for 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove leaves from the ice and dry them very well in a kitchen towel. Important: The basil leaves must be very dry.
  • Remove bowl and blades from the refrigerator or freezer and place basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, and grated Parmigiano in the food processor bowl.
  • Pulse a few seconds in the food processor.
  • Add salt and Pecorino cheese to the bowl.
  • Blend all ingredients in the food processor for about 1 minute.
  • Add olive oil to the bowl and blend for about 5 minutes at medium speed, and at intervals: blend a few seconds, stop and start again until you see a creamy green pesto sauce. Work quickly as you do not want the pesto to heat up.
  • Serve Pesto Genovese over pasta (you may want to add a tablespoon or so of the pasta water to the Pesto to thin it out a bit, as needed) or as a spread on toasted bread as an appetizer. Yield: About 1 cup; 6 servings. 33 cal per serving.
  • Store Pesto Genovese in the refrigerator, in an airtight container for 2-3 days, taking care to cover the sauce with a layer of extra virgin olive oil.
  • It's possible to freezer pesto in small jars, again covered with a thin layer of olive oil, and then defrost it in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

Notes

1. If you do not have a food processor you can make this recipe in a blender using the setting “puree.”
2. This recipe multiplies well, but do not try to make more than a double batch in a blender, or triple in a food processor.
3. This recipe multiplies well, but do not try to make more than a double batch in a blender, or triple in a food processor.
4. Pesto may be made several days in advance and kept refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use. If making in advance, be sure to cover the top of the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent the pesto from darkening. Pesto may also be frozen in the same manner in small quantities for use at a later date.
5. Keep frozen at 0ºF or below. Frozen shelf life is one year. When thawed and kept refrigerated at 40°F, product has a shelf life of ten days.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 199kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 149mg | Potassium: 22mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 250IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

Gifts of Pesto

When preparing pesto for gifts, you’ll want to attach a tag with the following:

Pesto Genovese

This all-natural pesto was made in the Genovese style with fresh basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, pine nuts, Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino cheeses.

To Use: Toss with hot pasta, or use as a crostini topping, as a marinade for chicken or fish. Keep refrigerated and use within one week. Enjoy!

Now that I know how to propagate basil (so easy), I’m ready to try using this super fun technique with other herbs—perhaps even onions and garlic too!


Next Up:

Instant Pot Spaghetti with Meat Sauce—So Good, It’s Insane!

Secrets for How to Grow An Edible Garden Just About Anywhere!

12 Ways to Make it Christmas in July

Moldy Cheese: How to Prevent, Fix, and When You Should Toss It Out

Call me picky, but I prefer my greens to be those of the garden variety, not something growing on my cheese. Moldy cheese can be quite disgusting but tossing it in the trash is not your only or even the best option.

cheeses displayed on wood cutting board

Don’t you just hate when this happens? You buy a block of cheese and before you can use it up it turns into something that looks more like a science fair project than a tasty dairy product.

I’ll admit it. Back in my carefree spendthrift days, I’d toss the cheese in the garbage when it turned moldy—oblivious to the fact that I might as well be throwing dollar bills away.

True, we could opt for buying just a few slices at a time from the deli counter, but that’s too expensive. And unnecessary. I can save more than $2 a pound off the best price at the supermarket if I buy in bulk from a discount warehouse like Sam’s Club or Costco. And that presents a storage challenge.

Ounce of prevention

Whoever said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” must have been a deli owner. Think about it. With all that cheese in those cases, have you ever seen one growing green mold that looks like we can grow in our refrigerators? Never. 

All I know about the proper care and handling of cheese I learned from one such person. That kind deli owner introduced me to the two archenemies of cheese: bacteria and air.

Air

Limit exposure to air and you can greatly extend the useful life of any type of cheese. For hard cheeses like cheddar or Monterey Jack, make sure that you keep them tightly wrapped with plastic wrap.

Bacteria

We know that it takes bacteria to make cheese in the first place, but that is much different than the kind of bacteria on your hands.

Rule 1

The first rule of mold prevention: Each time you open it, reseal just as tightly and completely as possible. That takes care of the air problem.

Rule 2

The second rule of mold prevention: Don’t touch the cheese! Even when you wash your hands well, some amount of bacteria remains and while not at all harmful to you or the cheese, that’s what gets that green thing going.

Either wear food preparation gloves or make sure the plastic is always creating a barrier between your hands and the portion of the cheese that’s going back into the refrigerator.

Pro tip

Here is a bonus tip that will at least double the shelf life of cottage cheese. Once opened, stir in a pinch of salt. That retards the growth of bacteria without affecting the taste. Apply the lid tightly to the unused portion and then store it upside down in the refrigerator. This will seal out air.

Pound of cure

For a cheese that has already turned, there are remedies. You can fix that green, moldy cheese.

Vinegar

You can actually wipe the mold away with a clean cloth you’ve dipped into white vinegar. Not the most pleasant job, it does work to save the cheese.

Cut it out

Another useful technique is to simply cut away the moldy parts. Once all the green is gone, treat this as you would a new block of cheese by following the two rules above.

 

FAQs

Do you have to toss all moldy cheese?

What about cheese that I prepared for a cheese plate. It's been out for hours.

In general, says Liz, you can save the cheese and you can put it back into the fridge. Just do not touch it with your fingers. (See Rule 2 above.) There are a few exceptions: 1. If that cheese was next to say fish or meat, toss it due to the possibility of cross-contamination. 2. If it’s mozzarella or burrata (very soft cheese) that’s been sitting out at room temperature, give it the boot. 3. If it’s sheeps milk cheese, which because of the extra fat has turned “sweaty,” that does not mean it is bad. Just pat it off and then you can wrap it and keep it.

 

Up Next:

Florida’s Mold and Mildew No Match for Magic Tub and Shower Potion

How to Knock Out Serious Mold and Mildew Problems

Best Inexpensive Phone Charger Plus More to Keep You Powered Up

 

 

3 Easy Ways to Doctor a Cake Mix So No One Has a Clue

If I didn’t know better I’d swear that boxed cake mixes reproduce in the dark of night on the shelves of my pantry. One day not so long ago, I counted 18 boxes in my pantry.

boxes of cake mix on marble counter

Here’s how that happens: Cake mixes go on sale routinely. One week it will be Betty Crocker, then Duncan Hines takes its turn and so on. This week in my supermarket Pillsbury is on sale for $1.25—that’s a good deal and a good reason to stock up.

Because no one my family is fond of plain, boring cake made from a mix, my challenge has been to find better ways to use them than to simply follow the instructions on the box. Today, I’m sharing my favorite hacks:

Cake Mix Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • yellow cake mix
  • eggs
  • butter
  • vanilla extract
  • milk
  • semisweet chocolate chips
  • nuts
chocolate chip cookies

Cake Mix Chocolate Chip Cookies

Grab a cake mix to stir up great cookies in just a few minutes!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Baking
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 42 cookies
Calories: 101kcal
Cost: $5

Ingredients

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • ½ cup butter or margarine softened or substitute with 1/2 cup vegetableoil
  • 1 to 2 tablepoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F (325F for dark or nonstick pans)
  • In a large bowl, beat cake mix, butter, 1 tablespoon milk, vanilla, and egg with electric mixer set to medium speed. Continue until smooth. If dough seems too dry, add 1 more tablespoon milk.
  • Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.
  • Drop dough by spoonfuls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  • Bake cookie 10-12 minutes or until edges are set (center will be soft and cookies wil be very light in color). Remove from oven and cool 1 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack. Store in a covered container.

Notes

1.  Because there are so many different kinds of cake mixes (with pudding, with double pudding, extra moist and so on), you may need to make slight adjustments to this recipe. For example, I’ve found that with some varieties of mix the dough is so stiff and dry it’s not possible to form the dough into cookies. When this happens I simply add one or two tablespoons of water until the dough is workable.
2. If you prefer a softer cookie, use only 1/3 cup butter and 2 eggs; omit milk.
3. If you need lots of cookies in a hurry, this recipe multiplies well. Just start with two cake mixes and double the additions.
4. If you want to cut down on fat, try substituting half the oil with applesauce (still 1/2 cup total—half butter, half applesauce).
5. Depending on the type of cake mix you use, these cookies may dry out after two days. To prevent this, store them in an airtight container along with a piece of bread. I don’t know why, but for some reason, this keeps the cookies just as fresh and moist as can be.
6. You can use just about any combination of cake mix and chips. Example: Carrot cake mix with white chocolate chips; chocolate cake mix with peanut butter chips; devils food cake mix with toffee bits chips; German chocolate cake mix with pecans and coconut.

Nutrition

Calories: 101kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 117mg | Potassium: 39mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 104IU | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

Read more

The Easiest Summer Barbecue Ever— Ribs, Beans, Slaw, Dessert

Does your fear-of-ruining-a-pile-of-ribs keeps your backyard grilling events stuck in hamburger mode? If so, you can let those fears go with these easy barbecue recipes. You’re about to learn a fool-proof, easier-than-easy method for turning out perfect baby back ribs every time you give it a try.

delicious bbq ribs with beans, cole slaw and a tangy bbq sauce

Consider this easy summer barbecue menu: Easy Baby Back Ribs, followed by  Coleslaw, Baked Beans, and Grilled Peaches to round out any summer celebration. Read more

Frozen Summer Treats are Cool

In these sizzling days of summer, it’s tempting to load up the freezer with pricey frozen treats. Or to duck into a coffee shop or juice bar to grab one of those decadent blended coffee chillers or a fruit smoothie. But the big price tags can make even the creamiest concoction or slushiest treat hard to swallow.

Giving up favorite cold treats isn’t your only option. Make these yourself and you have great summertime treats at home for just pennies, not dollars. 

milkshake on table

Copycat Wendy’s Chocolate Frosty

  • 3 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 1 cup milk (low fat OK)
  • 1/2 cup Nestle’s Quik powdered mix

Allow ice cream to soften in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Mix all ingredients in a blender. Do Wendy’s version one-step better by adding your favorite topping like sprinkles, crumbled cookies, whipped cream, or other yummy options. Yield: 4 servings

Read more

Food Shopping: The Jarring Truth

Why is it that the odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with ONLY a loaf of bread are about three billion to one?

Food prices in the U.S. have climbed so dramatically in recent months, a stroll through the aisles of a typical supermarket is enough to kill your appetite. If that were the only place we spent our food dollars that would be one thing. But most families these days spend as much eating out as they do for food to prepare at home.

A woman standing in front of a store

It’s no secret that supermarkets and grocery stores purposely design their layouts to entice us to buy lots more than we’d planned to purchase when we walked through the door, but shoppers are not victims. It all boils down to the choices we make—not just for what we buy but when we buy it.

There must be dozens of ways to shop for groceries, and I’m certain I’ve tried them all. But when it comes right down to it, every possible method falls into one of two categories—needs shopping or reserve shopping.

Read more

Cucumbers Galore? Enjoy Salad and Easy Pickles Recipes!

Today we celebrate cucumbers which will soon be in the peak of their season and dirt cheap! Cucumbers are not only delicious when prepared well, they are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

Home gardeners would do well to anticipate and plan for a big harvest because cucumbers, like zucchini, have a way to multiplying beyond expectations. Then producing even more. Farmers’ markets are always evident in this truth, where recently I saw a full box for just $5.

A cucumber in a garden

One thing to know about cucumbers: When grown in extremely hot temperatures, the cucumber skin can get bitter. You can deal with this by either removing the skin prior to slicing or soaking the cukes in salt water to remove the bitterness.

Personally, I love cucumbers so much, I would be happy eating them in a salad, as pickles, in a sandwich or just straight up with a sprinkle of salt and I mean every day of my life.

A cucumber on a table

Today I have one recipe for you that may take you back to your childhood. It does for me because this is the way my grandmother made cucumber salad. Followed by the easiest refrigerator dill pickles ever!

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How to Make Perfect Iced Tea (plus Southern Sweet Tea Recipe)

The only thing more comforting than a big, tall glass of iced tea on a hot summer day is knowing how to make that perfect iced tea yourself. With confidence. Just pennies per serving.

Iced tea

Proper Iced Tea

My dear mother-in-law, a very proper Canadian, taught me the difference between proper iced tea and the “swill” most restaurants pour, which in her opinion was, at best, a very poor facsimile. And trust me, she knew her stuff—including the six rules for proper iced tea:

Read more

Cheapskate Gourmet: Salad Dressings

If you think eating well means eating out—home delivery, pick-up, or dining-in—you may be feeling the effects of restaurant dining in your wallet as the cost of restaurant meals is now soaring in ways we’ve not seen before.

Yesterday, I was shocked to read the new (disposable) menu at a small local hamburger joint in our town. The same classic hamburger that was $7.95 pre-virus, is now $11.95. Will prices decline as this thing settles down? I wouldn’t bet on it.

It’s time for us to change our thinking and start digging in to find every realistic way imaginable that we can save time and money every day.

A plate of food on a table, with Blue cheese and Salad

If I can make the leap from being a diner-in-debt to making irresistible meals at home that often taste even better than those from a restaurant—at a fraction of the cost of eating out—you can, too.  One way to do this is to learn how to make gourmet salad dressings at home.

For many years ( before there was a Food Channel), I was uniquely privileged to sit under the personal tutelage of world-famous gourmet cooks the likes of Julia Child, Christopher Kimball, Martha Stewart, Martin Yan, and Jacques Pepin.

Every weekend I had standing appointments with one or more of them. They came right into my home and demonstrated unique techniques while I assumed a prone position, curled up in my favorite blanket, first-row-center in front of the television. They sparked confidence in me. From that start, my love for making great meals economically has grown.

Today, I want to share my basic recipes for what I consider to be gourmet salad dressings. So fresh and easy. Tasty, too.

Read more

How to Clean Cookie Sheet Pans So They Look New!

They come in sizes big and small, rimmed or without sides. We use them to bake just about anything, but mostly cookies. And they can get super grungy with layers of baked- and burnt-on grease resulting in ugly stains and residue build-up.

 

A close up of a dirty pan

Does anything here look familiar to you? If so, I have good news. Your cookie sheets can be cleaned and restored, even back to the way they looked when new.

What follows is a relatively quick and easy way to get rid of baked-on grease, stubborn food residue, and even rust on any type of cookie and baking sheets—aluminized steel, aluminum, and non-stick—and then to clean and maintain to keep them sparkling clean.

Read more

Fabulous Slow Cooker Summer…Salads! Plus My Salsa Recipe

I have to admit it. Just the idea of a slow-cooked salad makes me queazy. Thankfully, that’s not exactly it.

It’s a little-known secret that your slow cooker has a hidden talent for making incredible salads. Let it slow-cook the main ingredients for a creative salad while you’re away. Then toss in a few fresh additions just before it’s time to serve. I know! What a great idea.

 

A plate of food on a table, with Salad and Feta

Orange Chicken Spinach Salad with Feta

To make this you’ll need:

  • chicken breast
  • bone-in split chicken breasts
  • garlic
  • thyme, salt
  • orange juice
  • balsamic vinegar
  • baby spinach
  • cherry tomatoes
  • Kalamata olives
  • feta cheese
  • bottled vinaigrette salad dressing
a plate of sliced chicken

Orange Chicken Spinach Salad with Feta

The tender, yummy, orange chicken is prepared in your slow cooker then assembled into an awesome summer salad (or any time of year!).
4.2 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Slow cooker: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 459kcal
Cost: $8

Equipment

  • Slow cooker

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds bone-in split chicken breasts
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme, crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 10 ounces baby spinach, more or less
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • ¼ cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 3 tablespoons cumbled Feta cheese, more or less
  • ½ cup bottled vinaigrette salad dressing
  • 1 10.5 ounces mandarin orange segments, drained

Instructions

  • Remove and discard skin from chicken and sprinkle with garlic, thyme, and salt. Place chicken in 3.5- or 4-quart slow cooker. Add juice and vinegar. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or on high for 3 to 3.5 hours.
  • Remove chicken from cooker; cover and keep warm. Discard cooking juices.
  • In a large salad bowl toss together the greens, tomatoes, olives, orange segments, and Feta cheese. Slice chicken from bones; discard bones Arrange sliced chicken on salad. Drizzle with dressing. Servings: 6.

Nutrition

Calories: 459kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 123mg | Sodium: 341mg | Potassium: 723mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 4725IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 116mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

Green Beans and Petite Reds with Albacore

To make this you’ll need:

  • fresh green beans
  • small red skin potaotes
  • onion
  • mayonnaise
  • sour cream
  • milk
  • Dijon-style mustard
  • lemon juice
  • tarragon
  • salt, pepper
plate of food

Green Beans and Petite Reds with Albacore

This unusual "salad" is bursting with flavor and nutrition. Makes the perfect entree or side dish at the end of a hot summer day!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Slow cooking: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 176kcal
Cost: $5

Equipment

  • Slow cooker

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed t
  • 1 lb. tiny new red skn potatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ tspn salt
  • ¼ tspn pepper
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 to 2 tblspn milk
  • 1 tblspn Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 tblspn lemon juice
  • ½ tspn dried tarragon, crushed
  • ¼ tspn salt
  • 2 5 oz. cans solid white albacore, drained and flaked or any tuna
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach

Instructions

  • Lightly coat 3.5- or 4-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. 
  • Combine the beans, potatoes, onion, water, salt and pepper in cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours.
  • Meanwhile, for sauce, in a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, milk mustard lemon juice tarragon and salt. Cover and chill until needed.
  • To assemble, using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetable mixture to a large bowl. Pour sauce over vegetables. Add albacore and spinach. Toss gently to mix. Sprinkle with additional black pepper and serve immediately.

Nutrition

Calories: 176kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 157mg | Potassium: 612mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1519IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

Quinoa Salad with Beets, Oranges and Fennel

To make this salad you’ll need:

  • fresh beets
  • olive oil
  • orange
  • honey
  • quinoa
  • canned mandarin oranges
  • fennel
  • green onion (optional)
  • salad greens (optional)

 

A plate of food on a table, with Salad

Quinoa Salad with Beets, Oranges, and Fennel

This superfood salad is far from a boring bowl of leafy greens. Tender slow-cooked beets and quinoa served up with oranges and fennel are great any time of year, but especially nice on a hot summer day.
4.34 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American, Mediterranean
Prep Time: 20 minutes
slow cooking: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 202kcal
Cost: $7

Equipment

  • Slow cooker

Ingredients

  • lb. medium-size fresh beets
  • 3 tblspn olive oil
  • 1 orange
  • 1 tblspn honey
  • ¼ tspn salt
  • tspn black pepper
  • cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 15 oz can mandarin orange sections, rinsed and drained
  • 1 fresh fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 3 green onion, sliced optional
  • salad greens optional

Instructions

  • Place each beet on a piece of foil. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over all of the beets. Wrap each beet tightly in the foil and place in a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or until beets are fork-tender.
  • Remove beets from the slow cooker. When cool enough to handle, peel or slip the skin off each beet. Cut beets into thin wedges and place in a medium bowl.
  • For the dressing, remove 1 teaspoon zest and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice from the orange. Whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the orange zest, orange juice, honey salt, and pepper. Remove 1 tablespoon of the dressing and drizzle over beets; toss gently to coat.
  • In a bowl combine mandarin oranges and fennel, and drizzle with another 1 tablespoon of the dressing. Add quinoa to the remaining dressing; toss to coat.
  • To serve, top quinoa mixture with beets and mandarin orange-fennel mixture. If desired, sprinkle with green onions and (optional) serve on a bed of salad greens of your choice. Servings: 6.

Nutrition

Calories: 202kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 129mg | Potassium: 666mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 199IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

And now in follow-up to an earlier post, Compulsive Chopper. Many of you request my recipe for salsa that you see in the photos, made using my lovely Chop Wizard. Here you go …

 

Pico de gallo fresh made from the garden

Pico de Gallo

To make this you’ll need:

  • Roma tomatoes
  • red onion
  • garlic
  • cilantro
  • lime juice
  • fresh jalapeno
  • garlic powder (optional)
  • cumin powder (optional)
  • salt & pepper

Pico de Gallo

And now in follow-up to an earlier post, Compulsive Chopper. Many of you requested my recipe for salsa that you see in the photos, made using my lovely Chop Wizard. Here you go …
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 54kcal
Cost: $5

Ingredients

  • 12 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 green bell pepper (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime, only the juice and zest
  • 1 fresh jalapeno, seeded, chopped to taste
  • 1 pinch garlic powder optional
  • 1 pinch ground cumin optional
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Put all of the ingredients in a bowl. Stir. 
  • Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  • Serve. Repeat often. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 54kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 108mg | Potassium: 498mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1587IU | Vitamin C: 37mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

First published: 7-15-16; Revised & Updated with Recipe Cars 5-27-20

Grow Your Own Food One Square Foot at a Time

For years I’d tried to grow a decent vegetable garden. It was the high cost of fresh basil—$3.50 for a few measly, wilted basil leaves, ditto for a pound of somewhat reddish tomatoes, and mostly pink strawberries—that prompted me to try.

I started with tomatoes, basil, and peppers (a salsa garden!). In no time, I added zucchini and cucumbers to my repertoire—even corn ane strawberries one year.

A bunch of different types of vegetables

But I have to be honest. My harvests ranged from disappointing to mediocre. Only that one year did my garden produce so well, we had enough to share with others. I’m still trying to remember how I did that.

Uniquely talented

One thing I do quite well is weeds. I try not to take too much credit here, but I have to tell you I’ve never seen anyone else grow weeds quite as successfully as I do. And I can take them right through the season until they actually re-seed themselves for the next season!

Oh, the effort

While I love the concept of a garden that’s not only nice to look at but actually produces the food we enjoy eating. I’m not 100% in love with the anxiety, pressure, guilt, backaches, leg cramps, and fear of needing hip replacements.

There has to be a better way

While in the past my efforts to grow a garden have been more of a hobby than a serious endeavor, I feel that changing. The high cost of food—specifically, produce—tells me it’s time to get serious. We need to become more self-sufficient, but in a cost-effective way.

True cost? Yikes!

While I feel that I’ve mastered weeds, I’ve failed miserably in cost-effectiveness. I shudder to imagine the true cost of the pathetically tiny bounty I’ve garnered over the years. That doesn’t mean I’m ready to give up on vegetable gardening, only that I’m ready for a new way to do it.

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Make It Better Yourself: Panera’s Mac n’ Cheese, Starbuck’s Lemon Loaf

According to a Reuters news story that ran long before we had to teach our kids the meaning of “quarantine,” one-third of U.S. adults are eating out less frequently than three months prior. The reason? Mostly the cost. No surprise there. Not even drive-thru fast food or curbside pick-up is inexpensive these days.

In the same survey cited by Reuters, two-thirds of the respondents said they consider eating at home to be very or somewhat cheap. And that’s because … it is!

A dining room table

Now, somewhere in between not-eating-out because it’s too expensive and eating-at-home because it’s cheaper there has to be a solution that makes eating at home not only cheap, but satisfyingly delicious, too.

Copycat Panera Mac & Cheese

Everyone has their weakness—mine happens to be macaroni and cheese and in my opinion, it’s hard to beat Panera’s signature Mac & Cheese. But that $9 price tag is hard to swallow.

Everything in me has been determined to figure out how to make this myself at home, and for more like $.80 a serving. And now that’s exactly what I do—as often as I dare.

A bowl of Macaroni and cheese

This Copycat Panera’s Mac and Cheese Recipe is, in my opinion even better than Panera’s. It’s smooth and creamy thanks to a secret ingredient that may make some of my dear readers wince.

In a word: Velveeta.

I know what you’re thinking, but if an ingredient or technique makes a dish taste better and gives it a heavenly texture, I am all for it. The key lies in how much Velveeta you use—only a very small amount.

I promise you, people will go nuts for this Mac & Cheese. Just don’t mention the V-word. It’ll be our little secret.

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Where to Find Basic Essentials When the Shelves are Empty

The disruption to U.S. food supply chains is now playing out in grocery stores and supermarkets across the country. It seems like shoppers empty the shelves just as quickly as supermarkets can restock, especially on high-demand items like non-perishable foods, cleaning supplies, and, of course, toilet paper.   empty shelves

Good news! Finding the essentials you need may not require you to stand in long lines or spend hours clicking through Amazon search results, only to be disappointed over and again.

Today, I have alternatives for you to consider plus options for where to find the essentials you need that are—surprise!—in stock.

Meat, poultry

While we’re being told there’s no shortage of food in the US—for whatever reason, fresh meat and poultry have pretty much disappeared. And when found you’ll discover shockingly high prices, at least for now.

Reasonable alternatives for fresh meat and poultry are canned options that are just as nutritious like tuna, albacore, salmon; chicken, corned beef, and …  Spam!  And don’t forget the frozen food aisle where meat, seafood, and poultry seem to be more plentiful.

Pro tip

Consider this challenge the perfect opportunity to try out more meatless meals, built around eggs, cheese and other non-meat protein.

Meal Kits

Home Chef meal kits with contactless delivery right to your front door are looking better than ever, starting at  $6.95 per meal—with no delivery fees or gratuities. You can still use this link to get $35 off your first order, and that looks like free food to me! Seriously, that is a great deal for excellent quality fresh food that is super easy to prepare.

Home Chef continues to be the cheapest and most family-friendly meal kit service out there—available for delivery in 95% of the US. And of course, you can cancel at any time. Might be time to give Home Chef a try.

Flour

While supermarket baking shelves continue to be cleaned out, online sources like King Arthur Flour and Bob’s Red Mill are fairly well stocked; however, that changes day by day. Keep checking.

Webstaurant is another online resource for flour. Just know you’ll be dealing with professional baker quantities in 25-pound or even 50-pound bags. An easy solution there is for family and friends to go in together on those large quantities.

Another option for flour is to call a local bakery. One reader reports that she called a local bakery in her city to inquire if they might be willing to sell flour. The answer was a resounding Yes! She picked up 25 pounds for just $18 and got to support a local business at the same time. It just might be worth your time to make a call.

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16 Practical Ways to Stretch Your Food Budget

If soaring food prices are getting you down, help is on the way! Here are some basic saving strategies, practical solutions, and novel ideas to stretch your food budget—and make your life easier.

Granted, one of these strategies on its own is not likely to make a huge difference. But lots of small strategies working together—that’s the way to see huge results.

grated cheese

Grate savings

You pay a lot to have someone else grate your cheese for you—at least twice the price of buying cheese by the block. Currently, at my supermarket, cheese in blocks runs from about $2 to $2.50 a pound for the store brand to about $5.00 a pound and more for name brands. The very same cheeses, pre-grated, run almost exactly double across the board, $4 to $10 a pound. Here’s the tip: Grate it yourself. It will stay fresher and you’ll save money, too.

Pro tip: Commercially grated or shredded cheese comes with an added ingredient like potato starch or modified cornstarch to prevent “caking” or “clumping.” Well, guess what? Those anti-caking ingredients inhibit melting, too. Now you know why pre-grated or shredded cheese doesn’t seem to always melt as readily, often leaving an odd thickened texture.

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Super Summer Slow Cooker Recipes—Dessert, Entrees, Sandwiches, Too!

Slow cookers, what’s not to love? There was a time that I was smugly confident I had a very good handle on the slow cooker appliance—brands, sizes, prices, and the best inexpensive options out there. And now we have another option—a casserole slow cooker.

A bowl of food on a plate, with Slow cooker and Casserole

This is genius. The stone insert in this casserole slow cooker is a 9 x 13 stoneware casserole baking dish. It goes from the slow cooker base to the table for serving and it’s oven-safe, too.

And you can leave the insert in the base set on warm to serve on a buffet table. The casserole slow cooker is perfect for making lasagna, breakfast casseroles, desserts, and other casserole-type dishes that work best in that size and shape baking dish.

The Casserole Crock Pot comes in two versions—Manual with Low, High and Warm Settings and a beautiful stainless steel Programmable Digital model. I have the manual version (half the price of the fancy model) and love it.  Read more

Salad in a Jar—Good for Health and Wealth

If you’ve been hanging out with me for any length of time, you know I’m pretty wild about making Gifts in a Jar, now a free downloadable ebook. I’m talking about wide-mouth glass canning jars with screw top lids. Seriously, you can stuff just about anything in one of these amazing containers and come up with a unique, lovely gift. 

Over the years we’ve made Cookies in a Jar, Light in a Jar, Garden in a Jar, even a Journal in a Jar (instructions for all in the ebook). I have no idea why I’ve never embraced what is quite possibly the most practical use of a jar—Salad in a Jar.

A close up of food, with Jar and Salad

I didn’t think of this, but I’m pretty much in love with the person who did. Simply brilliant and so practical.

Basically, you assemble the ingredients for a fresh, healthy salad by layering them in a specific order in a glass canning jar.

If you do it right, you can make up a bunch of jar salads on Sunday, put them in the refrigerator and have your lunches made up and ready to go for the entire week. Prepared well, a jar salad kept in the refrigerator will be as fresh up to a week later as it was the day you assembled it. And no vacuum-sealing necessary.
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6 Easy Ways to Give New Life to Leftover Rice

Instead of pitching the leftover cooked rice from tonight’s dinner, try using it in different ways in your next meal. Just don’t make the fatal mistake of calling it “leftovers.”

A bowl of food with broccoli, with Cooked rice

Provided you think of leftover cooked rice as an ingredient in a future meal, you’re home free and all your picky eaters will be none the wiser.

Make sure you handle cooked rice safely:

  • Refrigerate the rice as soon as possible after cooking and consuming, ideally within 1-2 hours.
  • When reheating, make sure it’s steaming hot all the way through and avoid reheating more than once.
  • Keep leftover rice in the refrigerator for no longer than 24 hours before re-use or freeze in a freezer bag.

Fried rice

Toss some garlic, chopped onions, soy sauce, and sesame oil in your frying pan. Stir in two or three beaten eggs, stirring until lightly scrambled.

Add the leftover cooked rice (white or brown) and whatever veggies and chicken, beef, or pork you have on hand. Voila! You have a new meal of Chinese Fried Rice.

A bowl of food with rice and vegetables, with Fried rice

15-Minute Chinese Fried Rice

Instead of pitching the last few cups of cooked rice from tonight’s dinner, try using it in different ways in your next meal. Here's a great recipe for leftover rice.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 371kcal
Cost: $3

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts skinless and boneless
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 eggs slightly beaten
  • 1 16-ounce peas and carrots bag of frozen
  • 7 cups rice cooked jasmine or basmati
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce to taste
  • 5 scallions chopped
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Cut chicken in small cubes and place in bowl.
  • Season generously with salt, pepper and onion powder. Add oyster sauce and stir well to coat chicken.
  • Heat butter and oil in large skillet or wok over high heat. 
  • Add garlic and chicken. Stir constantly and cook until no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes. 
  • Add beaten eggs to the meat. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly until eggs are scrambled. 
  • Add frozen peas and carrots and stir to incorporate. Add cold rice (must be cold).
  • Add soy sauce and stir until light golden brown. Stir in chopped green onions just before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.25cup | Calories: 371kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

Rice salad

Another great way to use up your leftover rice is to toss it with your favorite vinaigrette or other salad dressing, fresh herbs or spices, and your favorite diced vegetables.

Rice and bean burritos

Heat up a can of refried beans, add some hot sauce and your leftover rice, and you’ve got yourself a quick bean and rice burrito. Add in whatever burrito toppings you happen to have on hand, such as salsa, sour cream, guacamole, or maybe even some leftover cooked veggies.

Rice soup

Use your leftover rice to make rice soup. Pop open a can of soup and heat it over the stove, stirring in your leftover rice and some extra spices for a quick homecooked meal suitable for the whole family. Or add cooked rice to your favorite soup recipes.

Rice quiche

You can use your leftover rice to make a bottom “crust” for a breakfast quiche by pressing the cooked rice on the bottom and sides of a pie pan. Or just toss the leftover rice in with the eggs and other ingredients before baking. Use about one cup of pre-cooked rice in your quiche.

Rice pudding

Rice pudding is a great way to use up lots of leftover rice all at once. You can add some cinnamon and nutmeg, or some raisins and dried fruit for a breakfast rice pudding. Or, check out this recipe:

A bowl of food on a plate, with Pudding and Rice

Caramel Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is a great way to use up lots of leftover rice all at once. You can add some cinnamon and nutmeg, or some raisins and dried fruit for a breakfast rice pudding.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Slowcooker: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 456kcal

Equipment

  • Slow cooker

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked rice white or brown
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 can sweetened condense milk 14-ounce size
  • 1 can evaporated milk 12-ounce size
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar or white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Spray inside of 2- to 3 1/2-quart slowcooker with cooking spray.
  • Add cooked rice, raisins, vanilla, condensed and evaporated milks to the slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on Low 3 to 4 hours or until liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
  • Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Serve warm.

Nutrition

Calories: 456kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

First published: 2-27-14; Republished adding new photos and recipes 5-03-20

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by Lablascovegmenu


Up Next:

Clever Ways to Make Meals from Leftovers

Cilantro-Lime Rice Just Like Your Favorite Restaurants

Instant Pot Spaghetti with Meat Sauce—So Good, It’s Insane!

Turn Leftovers into Soup

Cilantro-Lime Rice Just Like Your Favorite Restaurants

I have no idea why on the one hand I seriously do not care for cilantro but on the other hand, I’m crazy for Cilantro-Lime Rice as served by both Chipotle and Qdoba casual Mexican restaurants.

A bowl of food on a plate, with Rice and Basmati

How do they do that? How do they take rice, lime, and cilantro for goodness’ sake, and turn it into such a delicious side dish?

I’ve been asking that question for a long time. Finally, I believe I have figured out how to make delicious, amazing Cilantro-Lime Rice that tastes for all the world just like the restaurants’—and for just pennies.

But before I get into the specifics for how to make Cilantro-Lime Rice, I want to tell you about something I have learned in this process—a super fast way to prepare plain rice from scratch in about 12 minutes give or take.

My rice cooker takes longer than an hour to do the same thing. More traditional methods include preparing rice on the stovetop or in the oven with proper liquid to rice measurements followed by covered cooking at low temperatures until all of the liquid is absorbed.

There is another way and I’m talking about the way we prepare pasta: Get a big pot of water boiling, add salt and pasta. Boil rapidly for 8 to 12 minutes. Drain, rinse. Done. Perfect every time. Yes, that defies every rule we’ve ever learned for how to prepare rice, but it just works! Read more

How to Slash a Family’s Food Budget without Causing a Revolt

The year was 1992. We’d just come through 10 long years of repaying more than $100,000 of credit card debt I’d stupidly amassed. I’d come this close to losing my marriage, my family, our home and basically blowing up my life. Debt has a way of doing that.

A woman sitting at a table

After ten years, we’d brought that awful balance down to just $12,000. I could not wait to get it paid to $0. I got this wild idea to write a newsletter about our journey (back then, no Internet, no email, only an IBM Selectric typewriter … yep, that long ago!) hoping that enough people might pay $12 a year to subscribe. They did, oh boy did they. And Cheapskate Monthly was born—during a recession.

Long story short, The Los Angeles Times called, Oprah called, Dr. James Dobson called and the rest is history. The world has changed incalculably in those 28 years. There have been economic highs and lows. We’ve endured the recession of 1992, the horror of 9/11; the Great Recession of 2008. We’ve come through and each time, been better for what we’ve learned. And some things never change.

What you are about to read is from Cheapskate Monthly, Issue No. 2, February 1992, which I found in a neatly preserved file my dear mother-in-law left with my name on it. She’d typed out the contents of each of those early newsletters, together with a note that I might like them one day in the future.

Read more

Clever Ways to Make Meals from Leftovers

How to use leftovers? Oh, let me count the ways. There really are so many ways to make meals from leftovers, something the late Julia Child preferred to call “the remains of the day.” Such an elegant way to refer to leftovers.

A refrigerator filled with food, with Kitchen and Blender

Regardless, both terms refer to anything from half a pan of lasagna to a dab of mashed potatoes that sit in the fridge until they turn green, at which time we feel a lot better about throwing those leftovers away, right? These days, with the price of food soaring—that’s like throwing cash in the garbage.

RELATED6 Ways to Stop Throwing Rotten Produce in the Garbage

The secret to sticking to a food budget is to first find a delicious use for every last bit of what we buy, then have an immediate plan for leftovers, and finally, to be diligent to follow through. Really, it all comes down to choosing to see leftovers as ingredients for new dishes—not just multiple go-rounds of the same thing until it’s finally gone.

Contents

Click on one to go straight to it, or scroll down to enjoy all.

1. Pasta
2. Pizza!
3. Tortilla chips
4. Bread
5. Cheese
6. Eggs
7. Mashed potatoes
8. Coffee
9. Rice
10. Chicken, turkey
11. Fish
12. Meatloaf
13. How long to safely keep leftovers?

Pasta

Spaghetti Frittata

So, imagine spaghetti for breakfast. Impossible? Not at all, although this recipe works for lunch or dinner, too. For this recipe, you can use any kind of plain pasta—or go wile and use up last night’s leftover pasta smothered with sauce. Basically, you’re going to add protein value with eggs, milk, and veggies. Then, fry it up in a skillet and you’ve got Spaghetti Frittata.

Pasta Stir Fry

Stir-fries are a great way to clear out the refrigerator and use up bits of produce. Stir-frying is really one of the best leftover technique you can have up your sleeve. It’s a matter of throwing together leftover pasta, vegetables, a protein like chicken and some kind of sauce.

Pasta Mama

It’s one of our favorites—for any meal of the week. Does it sound familiar? That’s because you recall Pasta Mama from a previous post. Find it here.

Pizza

Pizza eggs

Cut 2 slices of pizza into bite-size pieces. In a bowl, beat together 8 to 10 eggs. Add the pizza pieces, stir to cover all the pieces and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high. Scramble pizza-egg mixture in the pan for about 6 minutes or until fully cooked. Top with grated or shredded cheese and serve.

MORE: Absolutely the Best Way to Store and Reheat Leftover Pizza

Pizza lasagna

This takes a little imagination, but bear with me. Use your favorite lasagna method or recipe, substituting the lasagna noodles with leftover pizza you’ve cut into strips. It’s amazing so you really should give this a try.

Tortilla chips

Breakfast scramble

It takes only 10 minutes, and the results are amazing. Crush up that partial bag of tortilla chips—crush ’em good! Then fold chips and salsa into eggs and add cheese for an awesome Breakfast Scramble. Full recipe here.

Tortilla soup

It’s quick (under 30 minutes!) and demands tortilla chips to finish. Perfect! This recipe from Martha Stewart is super easy, too.

Bread

French toast

In a bowl, beat together 2 eggs, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2/3 cup milk. Soak 6 slices stale bread in the mixture, turning to coat both sides. Next, heat lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Place bread in a skillet over medium heat and cook on both sides until golden. Serve with butter and syrup.

Croutons

Rub 4 slices of stale bread with a crushed clove of garlic. Cut bread into cubes, crouton-size. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cubes and cook, stirring often, until crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

French onion soup

This recipe actually calls for the bread to be stale—either a baguette or another crusty variety. Each serving of soup uses two slices of bread, one on the top and one on the bottom. Or check out my favorite French Onion Soup recipe, which admittedly is a bit more involved, but so worth it.

Avocado toast

Spread any kind of toasted bread with a touch of a schmear of mayonnaise followed by soft buttery avocado, a bit of lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Then, kick it up with these additions: sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced cucumbers, cilantro, sprouts, sliced olives—whatever you have on hand.

MORE: 7 Awesome Ways to Use up Stale Bread

Cheese

Fromage fort

It’s not what you’re thinking—blankets of cheese spread over furniture for kids’ play! Actually, it’s French for “strong cheese.” Translated, it is a delightfully economical blend of whatever odds and ends of cheese you have around plus some wine, garlic, salt, pepper and herbs.

Basically, you throw all of it (think leftovers from last night’s party) into the blender and Voila!, a spread for crackers and baguette, or a dip veggies. Don’t judge, this really is quite amazing.

There are no rules or recipes, just guidelines. But the main thing, the salient bit, is that you just wing it. You have to check it out!

Mac ‘n cheese

Pretty much a no brainer, right? Well not exactly, depending on which cheese you have in need of a delicious way to be used up. If it’s white cheddar, hallelujah! This copycat recipe is my family’s all-time favorite. If you’re a Panera Bread fan, you’re going to love it, too.

Eggs

Breakfast bowl

Probably not what you’re thinking. The idea here is to enrich that bowl of plain Cream of Wheat with an egg and vanilla. The result is a creamy breakfast pudding. Yum! Find the recipe here.

Pavlova

What to do with all of those egg whites leftover from that recipe that called for only egg yolks? How about a meringue dessert. The fancy name is pavlova, and it is delightful! There are endless recipes out there for pavlova, but you won’t find one easier and more foolproof than Easy Pavlova.

Mashed potatoes

Potato cakes

Mix cold mashed potatoes with an egg or two, leftover pieces of fish, ham, corned beef plus chopped onion and a little flour to hold it all together. Form into small patties and shallow fry in oil, until brown and crispy.

Topping

Use leftover mashed potatoes as a topping on a savory pie filling. You’re not likely to have a lot of potatoes, so think individual shepherds pies or chicken pot pies.

Gluten-free cake

Mashed potatoes are an ingredient in many gluten-free desserts, paired with gluten-free self-rising flour, like this Lemon & Orange Cake or this Lemon Drizzle Cake.

Coffee

Sauce

After pan-frying chicken or pork, deglaze the pan with coffee instead of wine for a deeper, southern-style gravy sometimes known as Red Eye Gravy

Freeze it

Coffee ice cubes are great in iced coffee; they don’t dilute the drink as the ice melts. Or add your preferred milk and flavorings to the coffee and pour into popsicle-type molds for a frozen treat tomorrow

Brine

Coffee-based brines that include spices such as cloves, star anise, peppercorns and, of course, plenty of salt make for delicious and super moist roast chicken. Here’s a recipe for your consideration: Coffee Brined Chicken Breasts.

Rice

Fried rice

The main ingredient in fried rice is … leftover, white rice! And it’s so easy, if not forgiving. All you need is a good roadmap to follow. And I’m sure you’re not surprised that I have that for you right here in New Life for Leftover Rice!

Rice pudding

Most recipes for rice pudding call for uncooked rice. That’s not much good when it’s cooked white or brown rice leftover that needs a yummy use, and quick. That’s why I love this recipe, Old Fashioned Creamy Rice Pudding. The first ingredient is 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice! I think you will agree that it is fabulous.

Chicken, Turkey

Chicken soup

Of course, chicken and turkey are pretty much interchangeable when it comes to making soup. You may have a heritage recipe handy, one that has been handed down through your family tree. Or if not, this one could easily become your go-to recipe of choice.

Club salad

Use cut-up turkey or chicken to top a salad. The protein fiber combination makes for a perfect meal!

Mediterranean wrap

Forget shelling out the big bucks at the local sandwich shop. Instead, repurpose last night’s chicken or turkey in your own healthy version. Grab a flour tortilla and use it to wrap chicken (or turkey) and your choice of grilled vegetables.

Turkey pot pie

Or chicken. Honestly, just the thought of homemade chicken or turkey pot pie makes my salivary glands go crazy. If you’re with me on that, here’s a pretty awesome, if not foolproof, recipe because father knows best, right? Dad’s Leftover Turkey Pot Pie. Be still my heart.

Fish

Salad

What to do with those bits and piece of leftover salmon, halibut or another type of fish? Even if it’s breaded or deep-fried, don’t toss it out! It can make a fabulous addition to tomorrow’s lunch.

Fish casserole

Move over tuna casserole. This fish pasta is oh, so much classier. While it calls for 1 1/2 pounds of white fish filet, I know you can figure out how to use yesterday’s leftover flaky fish. Since you’ll be baking this in a casserole for fewer than 25 minutes, no worries about it drying out or otherwise turning ugly.

Meatloaf

Chili

Use chopped up leftover meatloaf in place of ground beef to make homemade chili. It’s all seasoned and ready-to-go.

Quesadillas

So easy! Mix together chopped up meatloaf, onion and green pepper or other toppings of choice. Stir in your favorite BBQ sauce. Cover a flour tortilla with the mixture, top with shredded cheese and top with the second tortilla. Place tortilla in the skillet cook for 1-2 minutes, until cheese starts to melt and the tortilla starts to turn brown. Flip so each side is golden and crisp.

Spaghetti

Replace ground beef with chopped leftover meatloaf in your favorite meat sauce. Over spaghetti, it is one of the most fantastic dishes from leftovers!

Grilled sandwiches

Add a slice of leftover meatloaf to your next grilled cheese sandwich! Or forget the cheese and make a grilled meatloaf sandwich.

Sliders

Tiny dinner split rolls plus a slice of meatloaf cut to the same size plus your choice of spreads—bacon onion jam, mayonnaise, mustard, you name it and what do you get? Party Food!, no party necessary.

How long to keep leftovers?

In closing, you may be wondering, how long do we have to make these meals from leftovers? How many days can we safely keep leftovers in the refrigerator? That is an excellent question, and one for the professionals.

According to Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.:

Leftovers can be kept for three to four days in the refrigerator. Be sure to eat them within that time. After that, the risk of food poisoning increases. If you don’t think you’ll be able to eat leftovers within four days, freeze them immediately.

Food poisoning—also known as a foodborne illness—is caused by harmful germs, such as bacteria in contaminated food. Because bacteria typically don’t change the taste, smell or look of the food, you can’t tell whether a food is dangerous to eat. So if you’re in doubt about a food’s safety, it’s best to throw it out.

Fortunately, most cases of food poisoning can be prevented with proper cooking and food handling. To practice food safety, quickly refrigerate perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs. Don’t let them sit more than two hours at typical room temperature or more than one hour at temperatures above 90 F (32 C).

Uncooked foods, such as cold salads or sandwiches, also should be eaten or refrigerated promptly. Your goal is to reduce the time a food is in the “danger zone”—between 40 and 140 F (4 and 60 C)— when bacteria can quickly multiply.

When you’re ready to eat leftovers, reheat them on the stove or in a conventional oven or microwave until the internal temperature reaches 165 F (74 C). Slow cookers aren’t recommended for reheating leftovers as these devices may not heat foods hot enough to kill bacteria.

Revised & republished:  3-28-20


Up Next

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Turn Leftovers into Soup

Einstein in the Kitchen or Let Them Eat (Carrot) Cake

 

 

 

 

How We Use Meal Kits to Cut Food Costs

Faithful readers will recall that my husband and I tested and now continue to enjoy the most popular meal kit delivery service.

 

A plate of food on a table, with Home Chef and Meal kit

 

Since first writing about that I’ve gotten the most interesting feedback. But first, a quick review:

  • From the meal kit delivery services available at that time, I selected Home Chef because our zip code is in its delivery area—and now nearly 98% of the country is
  • It is the cheapest meal kit option.
  • I predicted it would be the most family-friendly. Turns out I nailed it.

Home Chef meals are absolutely delicious and use normal, fresh food—not exotic fare or ingredients we’ve never heard of and can’t pronounce.

Users select meals and menus based on preference and dietary needs including classic, calorie-conscious, carb-conscious, less-than-30 minutes, and vegetarian.

A Home Chef meal kit includes all of the fresh ingredients and instructions needed to cook restaurant-quality meals for 2, 4, or 6 people in the comfort of your own kitchen, eliminating recipe searches and food shopping by sending everything required for that meal—perfectly portioned and ready to go.

Seriously, Home Chef is like having your own personal shopper and sous chef. The meals are wonderful, so easy to prepare—and versatile. And here’s the best thing: Everything I need to make that meal is included all portioned out and ready to go except for oil, salt, and pepper. And I can leave out or reduce item to taste, like the red pepper flakes; or salt. Read more

How to Make a Perfect Baked Potato in the Oven

If you’ve ever wondered how some restaurants turn out such perfectly baked potatoes with salty, crispy skin—potatoes that are super fluffy inside and so delicious, you’re about to discover the secrets. And don’t be surprised when once you have the technique down, your family will be all in when you announce that potatoes are what’s for dinner!

A close up of food, with Baked potato

Baked potatoes on a baking tray split open and ready to eat!

Potatoes—they’re nutritious, delicious, and inexpensive. And as they come from the oven, they’re gluten-free, low-fat, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan, too.

What is the best type of potato for baking?

Russet potatoes, also referred to as Idaho potatoes in the U.S, are best for baking. A russet’s skin or “jacket” is thicker than other types of potatoes, so it holds together well during baking. The inside of a russet is starchy, sweet, and makes for a fluffy texture once baked. Russets are available from medium to large, making them perfectly sized for a side dish—or one large russet per person makes a meal on its own.

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Homemade English Muffin Bread

Here’s an easy way to cut your grocery bill this week—make your own bread. Wait! Hear me out. I want to show you how to make homemade bread that is so easy, so simple, and so foolproof it’s going to make you feel like a genius. This homemade English Muffin Bread is simply amazing.

A sandwich cut in half on a plate, with Bread and Butter

If you’ve read my book, 7 Money Rules for Life, you know that Rule #1 is so simple it would be easy to overlook it as being too elementary. Here it is: Spend less than you earn.

Now think about it … “spend less than you earn” is not the same as “don’t spend more than you earn.” That implies it would be okay to spend all that you earn, but no. The operative word is “less.” You need a gap between what you earn and how much of it you spend. That is the fundamental secret to living below your means.

It’s in that gap that you can repay debt, build an emergency fund, and financial freedom can grow. You really need to read the rest of the book, but for now, let’s just say that growing the gap is the challenge.

Making your own homemade bread is an easy way to increase your gap this week even if only by a few dollars. It all adds up! Let me show you how to make homemade bread that is so amazing, so simple, and so foolproof it’s going to make you feel like a genius.

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It’s All About the Sauce—Chinese Brown Sauce!

Some of my earliest childhood memories center around Asian food. But not just any Asian food. I’m talking about the food at the Golden Dragon restaurant in Boise Ida., city of my birth and the home of tiny pork ribs swimming in the most beautiful and delicious brown sauce with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

To my 7-year-old sense of fine cuisine, that dish was to die for. My favorite thing in the whole, wide world!

For me, it was all about the sauce. Brown sauce. Yummy, amazing make-my-mouth-water kind of sauce. I poured it on my noodles; would eat it with a spoon like soup.

I recall exactly what it tasted like, too. It was definitely brown, kinda’ sweet but a little tangy and shiny—not clear like broth but not dense like gravy, either. And smooth. No chunks or chewy bits. No onions, peppers or pineapple pieces. None of that. Just glorious, shimmery, fabulous sauce over tiny ribs and sticky white rice on the side. I would all but lick the plate clean. Wait, maybe I did that.

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Homemade Soup to Soothe the Soul and Budget—in Minutes!

LOYAL READERS  know by now that I love to cook. And I prefer to make things from scratch. But given my crazy schedule, many days I have zero time to get a meal on the table—not even 30 minutes (sorry, Rachael Ray). I’m always on the lookout for the fastest food.

I need quick and easy meals that are also delicious. If something is fast and tastes good, it’s so much better than eating out. And way cheaper, too.

The four recipes that follow (presented as “recipe cards” so you can easily print them) are my family’s favorites!

 

A bowl of soup on a table

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11 Easy 3-Ingredient Party Dips That are Absolutely Delicious!

Here’s my idea of a killer New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl or any other kind of party—one that includes a smorgasbord of dips and things to dip in them.

A table full of food, with Buffet

I’m talking about absolutely delicious hot, cold, savory, spicy, even sweet dips—an amazing variety sure to please all—beautifully arranged so that everyone can easily graze through the evening. All said dips need to be quick and easy to make, too, requiring only 3-ingredients (all of which are available in local grocery and supermarketsl; links included for some so you can see what they look like).

Are you with me?

Crab Dip

It’s amazingly yummy, thanks to Mrs. Dash. You will be disappointed if you try to substitute anything else for her extra spicy blend. It has to be this one.

Place all ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Mix well. Keep refrigerated until serving.

Recipe source: Pinterest

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Cinnamon Rolls—So Decadent, So Simple It Might Be Illegal!

There was a time that I felt compelled to rise early on Christmas morning to bake Cinnamon Rolls—my family’s breakfast item of choice on that very special day of the year.

 

cinnamon rolls

When I say early, I mean 3:30 am. It takes hours for sweet bread dough to rise multiple times. And let’s just say that over the years, some attempts have been more successful than others.

Those days are gone. I’m done with that routine and not because I don’t love my family.

Now I sleep in until exactly 43 minutes before I want everyone to wake up to the smell of fresh, hot, decadent, perfect-every-time Cinnamon Rolls.

I may regret letting the cat out of the bag on this because they still think I’m a world-class Cinnamon Roll baker, but for right now, I’m excited to show-and-tell the most outrageously awesome food hack I’ve ever discovered.

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White Fruitcake that Dreams are Made Of

I have no pride and, according to some, no taste. I love fruitcake. Sickeningly sweet, loaded with pecans, cherries, pineapple, and golden raisins; heavy as a brick and about four weeks old. Yum.

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Undeserved reputation

For some reason, which I cannot even begin to fathom, fruitcake has acquired a somewhat dubious reputation. It’s been horribly maligned— often referred to as “disgusting!” It’s the laughing stock of the season, which as a fruitcake connoisseur, I find completely offensive.

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Your Best Thanksgiving Feast Ever, Healthy, Delicious, and Cheap!

If there’s one thing we should be thankful for this Thanksgiving, it’s this: Turkey is cheap! And the rest of the Thanksgiving dinner can be, too.

A close up of many different types of food on a table

The secret to enjoying a traditional feast without overspending is to know a few tricks. I sat down with two highly respected professionals—a butcher and a personal chef. What I learned from John Smith, professional butcher and personal chef, Liz Tarditi, pretty much blew a hole in everything I thought I knew about buying, thawing and preparing a turkey.

Get the best turkey

Choosing the best turkey is easier said than done unless you fully understand the difference between a store brand and a name brand bird. Just because a turkey is more expensive does not make it any better, says John. All that means is that it has a lot of advertising built into its price.

What customers don’t know is that one turkey processor will slap many different labels on his crop of birds. The turkeys are all the same, only the labels are different. This is a rule you can count on, according to John the Butcher: “Always go with the cheapest turkey and you’ll never go wrong. I’ve sold tens of thousands of store brand turkeys to very happy customers.”

EC: Fresh or frozen?

JS: First, let me define a “fresh” turkey. According to the people who make the laws, turkeys can be called “fresh” even though the moisture in the bird is frozen! If you press very firmly on the bird the meat is not frozen. The turkey processors have it down to a science. They bring the temperature of the “fresh” birds down to the very legal limit before sending them off to the store two weeks before Thanksgiving.

Frozen turkeys, on the other hand, are quick-frozen immediately upon butchering. So the freshest turkey is really a frozen turkey. The freezing process has no noticeable effect on the quality of the bird.

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Stop Making These Slow Cooker Mistakes and Watch What Happens

I gave away my slow cooker. I’d stopped using it feeling pretty much like a slow-cooking failure. I’d just acquired a multi-cooker Instant Pot with a slow cook option should I ever need to try that again. Besides, who wants to dine on meat that’s an odd shade of gray and vegetables with all the texture of mush? How can boneless skinless chicken breasts cook in liquid all day long and come out tough and dry as dust? Turns out I was the problem, not my humble kitchen appliance.

Slow cooker and Kitchen

As easy as slow cookers are meant to be, they come with rules (who knew?). I ruined so many meals—and my relationship with what should’ve been my favorite small appliance—because I  pretty much broke all the rules. I committed every slow cooker mistake.

If you’re a slow-cooker hater, here’s your opportunity to learn from my mistakes. And get ready, because it just might be time to break out your slow cooker to give it another chance. Read more

4 Absolutely Brilliant Ways to Cook Corn on the Cob

There’s just nothing that screams late summer like sweet corn when it’s fresh, hot, and slathered with butter and salt. Today, I want to share with you four brilliantly delicious ways to cook corn on the cob that are sure to thrill and delight you, your family, and guests, too.

Corn on the cob is a summer staple that should be part of every summer celebration and backyard cookout because not only is fresh corn cheap when it’s in season, it’s quick and easy to prepare, too! But first, let’s talk about how to start with the best ears of corn.

 

Food on a table, with Corn on the cob and Sweet corn

How to choose

There you are in front of a pile of freshly-picked, in-the-husks, sweet corn. You want to select ears with these characteristics:

  • Bright green husks that are tightly wrapped and mostly intact.
  • The stem area where it was cut from the stalk should be sticky and moist. If this is really dry, it’s old corn.
  • Check the tassels. They, too, should be slightly sticky, moist, and silky.
  • Peel back a small area of the husk to check for wormholes and brown spots. Avoid.

4 ways to prepare

There must be as many ways to prepare fresh corn on the cob as there are people who love to eat it. Here are my favorites:

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The Useful Life of Spice plus How to Repurpose at the End

When I packed up my kitchen for our big move a few years ago, I was embarrassed to discover what I had accumulated in the spice drawer.

I’m pretty sure there were a couple bottles of something or other in there that were certified antiques, pre-dating the Nixon administration. And that ground allspice? I think the sell-by date was 50 A.D.

 

Drawer and Kitchen

Do spices expire?

The useful life of spices and dried herbs vary but you don’t have to worry about them going bad like other foods. The problem, however, is that they can lose flavor, which is the reason we use them at all.

A bottle of curry powder you’ve had for an untold number of years won’t make you sick. But it won’t be as potent and flavorful as when it was fresh. Spices, especially once ground, degrade over time.

As I researched to get to the bottom of this question, I found a reference to an unsupported rule of thumb floating around out there that says we should use or toss herbs and spices after six-months. What?! That seems a bit short to me. I sure can’t afford to purge my spice drawer twice a year,  which prompted me to check further with more reliable resources.

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Peaches—Tips, Tricks, and My Grandmother’s Peach Cobbler

And just like that, it’s peach season. That’s a big deal where I live in northern Colorado in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. We love peaches! Soon we’ll be enjoying Peach Street Fairs, Palisade Peach Festivals; peach fruit piled high in every store’s produce department, and featured on nearly every restaurant’s menu.

A green apple in front of a fruit

Freestone or cling?

While there are many varieties of peaches, basically there are two types: If a peach is “freestone,” it means the stone falls right off of the flesh when it’s cut. A “clingstone” will stick to the pit.

Freestones are larger, juicier, sweeter, and more comfortable to work with since the pit pops right out of a ripe peach. Many store-bought yellow and white peaches fall into this category. One of the most famous is the Georgia peach.

Clingstone peaches—peaches that are harder to pit because the pit firmly adheres to the flesh—are mostly used for canning.

Fresh peaches are available throughout North America starting in late July until the first or second week of September.

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How to Make Taco Seasoning Mix and What to Do With It

Seasoning packets from the supermarket may be convenient, but they have drawbacks—not the least of which is they’re relatively expensive! I just checked Lawry’s Taco Spices and Seasonings Mix—! I just hate to pay that much for so little. And I don’t have to because I’ve got a great recipe to make taco seasoning mix myself, using ordinary spices I have already. As a bonus know exactly what’s in it, and how old the ingredients are.

 

A plate of food on a table, with Taco and Beef

 

The recipes that follow call for the amount of seasoning you would find in the typical supermarket seasoning packet—about 4 1/2 tablespoons of mix.

While you could make the amount you need as you need it, a better idea is to make a bunch while you’re at it, then keep it tightly sealed in your spice rack. It’ll come in handy more times than you can imagine. The recipe multiplies well.

Enjoy this simple mix and the two family-friendly recipes that follow for both beef and chicken tacos. Yum!  Read more

Make Sure You Have These 9 Essential Pantry Items

Have you been paying attention to what’s going on with the cost of food? I just read that the average cost of ground beef in the U.S. has once again hit an all-time high. I believe it, and not only beef. It is shocking how grocery prices are going up, which underscores the need for a well-stocked pantry.

 

A person looking at the camera, with Kitchen Pantry

 

The way to fight back is two-fold:

  1. Buy groceries when they’re on sale
  2. Eat at home

Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Well, it can be if you make sure your kitchen pantry is well-stocked. It’s annoying and expensive to not have basic items on hand. You don’t have what you need and don’t have time to go get it, which means, of course, you’ll just have to go out for dinner. Again. 

Taking the time and effort to make sure you always have the following 9 essential pantry items will save a lot of money, provided you pick these items up as they go on sale. Think of this as a project. 


MORE: 5 Fabulous Ways to Hack a Boxed Cake Mix 


Evaporated milk

I basically detest the stuff because I had to drink it as a kid. But used in cooking and baking, evaporated milk is fabulous! Keeping a few cans in your pantry ensures you’ll always have milk on hand when the recipe calls for it. Read more

7 Awesome Ways to Use Up Stale Bread with Delicious Results

Who doesn’t wince at the thought of throwing out food that’s past its prime? Take bread for instance. It’s no longer fresh. It’s hard and dried out. Tossing it in the garbage does seem like the only thing to do.

But wait! Provided it hasn’t begun to grow mold, you really can turn leftover bread, rolls, or baguettes into something deliciously awesome.

Here’s the secret: Grilling, toasting, baking or frying gives bread a second yummy life. In fact, the following are all best when the bread is not fresh. Prepare to be amazed.

A piece of bread on a cutting board, with Baguette and French toast

French toast

In a bowl, beat together 2 eggs, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2/3 cup milk. Soak 6 slices stale bread in the mixture, turning to coat both sides. Heat lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Place bread in pan and cook on both sides until golden. Serve with butter and syrup.

Croutons

Rub 4 slices of stale bread with a crushed clove of garlic. Cut bread into cubes, crouton-size. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cubes and cook, stirring often, until crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Favorite Super Short, Super Easy Instant Pot Recipes

I have loved my Instant Pot since the day it arrived back in 2016. I’ll admit to being slightly intimidated in the first few days but that was short-lived. Thanks to a few tips, tricks, and these ridiculously simple recipes, in no time I was making dinners in 30 minutes or less—start to finish.

Instant Pot

Meals from my Instant Pot are as good (often better) than slow-cooked meals that I have to think about early in the day—and only one pot to clean at the end.

While there are plenty of recipes out there for electric pressure cookers, I find myself going back to my tried and true, no-brainer recipes that are as simple and the gadget itself.

All you need to pull this off in your kitchen is an Instant Pot, a few awesome, albeit it simple, recipes plus a general knowledge for how it works. Here are the basic terms:

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What Would You Do with 35 Pounds of Lemons?

I kinda’ went nuts on my last trip to California. You’ll recall from a previous column we make that trip quite often for business but also to visit our son who has a Meyer lemon tree in his back yard. I have never seen such a prolific fruit tree in my life. It’s not on any kind of lemon steroids; it gets no preferential care like pruning or watering. Apparently, it thrives on being left alone.

A close up of a flower

 

I always load up my suitcase with lemons but for some reason, this last trip I went crazy. How crazy? I arrived home with 35 pounds of gorgeous, perfectly ripened Meyer lemons.

My friends got lemons. I squeezed lemon juice for the freezer. This past month, I’ve made Lemon Chicken, Lemon Bars and “Lemons in a Jar” for gifts.

While I haven’t come up with a way to share lemons with you, I can gladly share my favorite recipes. Enjoy! Read more

Hawaiian Sliders: Perfect on the Grill

Have I got a treat for you. I’d have you close your eyes and hold out your hands, but we’ll save that for another time. Right now, I want to help you add another winner to your ever-growing collection of recipes that set you apart as a cook and make people think you are a genius.

A “slider” is a small sandwich that is served in a bun. Typically we think of sliders as small hamburgers, but the term can also cover any small sandwich served on a slider roll.

A close up of food

I’ve been working to perfect this recipe. After several tries and tweaks, my EC office staff has now declared it to be a home run and ready to share with you. And with no time to spare just in case you’re looking for something very easy but showy to pull out of your culinary bag of tricks for a July 4th celebration.  Read more

Revisions

7 Awesome Ways to Use Up Stale Bread with Delicious Results

Who doesn’t wince at the thought of throwing food in the garbage that is past its prime? Take bread for instance. It’s no longer fresh. So what can you really do with leftover bread, rolls or baguettes that will turn them into something great, almost if by magic?

Here’s the secret: Grilling, toasting, baking or frying gives bread a second yummy life. In fact, the following are all best when the bread is not fresh. Prepare to be amazed.

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French toast

In a bowl, beat together 2 eggs, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2/3 cup milk. Soak 6 slices stale bread in the mixture, turning to coat both sides. Heat lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Place bread in pan and cook on both sides until golden. Serve with butter and syrup.

Croutons

Rub 4 slices of stale bread with a crushed clove of garlic. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cubes and cook, stirring often, until crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Read more