Posts

7 of the Best Ways to Use Up Stale Bread

Who doesn’t wince at the thought of throwing out food that’s past its prime? Take bread for example. It’s no longer fresh. It’s hard and dried out. Tossing it in the garbage may 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.

homemade crunchy croutons made from grilled buttered bread

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

French toast

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

French toast with butter and maple syrup on the white plate

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Pasta Mama: World-Class Gourmet Pasta on a Shoestring

A popular restaurant Hugo’s, in West Hollywood, Calif., has been critically acclaimed for one of its menu items, Pasta Mama.

The first time I heard about it, I thought it was a bit odd. Pasta with eggs? I couldn’t imagine what would prompt people to drive many miles to get Pasta Mama. But they do, insisting, it’s the best pasta they’ve ever eaten.

Hugos Restaurant and famous Pasta Mama menu item

I had to try it, and as you might imagine, I love it. I would describe it to you here, but it’s indescribable—indescribably delicious, that is.

 

But I don’t drive to Hugo’s to pay $15 (plus tax and tip) for this dish. Instead, I make it myself, from scratch, following my copycat recipe, which follows below. What a wonderful, simply satisfying dinner—or breakfast—entree.

Pasta Mama takes all of about 10 minutes from start to finish and feeds two for a total cost of about a buck. Don’t worry, the recipe can be doubled easily, with great results.



At that price, you have little to lose if you try it and don’t like it, and chances are really good that you’ll love it.

In fact, I won’t be surprised to hear that you’ve added Pasta Mama to your family’s list of favorite meals. Serve it once a week and your grocery budget will love you.

You’ll need:

  • pasta, spaghetti or fettucini
  • eggs
  • fresh garlic
  • garlic powder
  • ground oregano
  • onion powder
  • seasoning salt
  • fresh parsley
  • olive oil
  • pasta water
  • Parmesan cheese

 

A plate of gourmet-quality Pasta Mama from Hugo's Restaurant, West Hollywood, Calif.

Pasta Mama

People drive for many miles to enjoy Pasta Mama at Hugo's, the famed restaurant in West Hollywood, Calif. Here is a quick, easy and super cheap way you can save the trip and make it yourself in under 20 minutes.
4.56 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 407kcal

Ingredients

  • 5 oz pasta dry or fresh, like fettuccini or spaghetti
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground oregano
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp seasoning salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 2 - 3 tbsp reserved pasta water or water
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan

Instructions

  • Prepare pasta according to package directions (or use any kind of leftover pasta).
  • While pasta is cooking, mix seasonings together in a small bowl and beat the eggs in another bowl. Set both aside.
  • Pour oil (or melt butter) in a 10-inch saute pan. Add minced garlic and the entire amount of seasoning mix (should be 1 teaspoon total).
  • Saute for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add parsley; add hot pasta right out of the cooking water along with one tablespoon of hot water. (If you are using leftover pasta, make sure it is hot!)
  • Add the beaten eggs. Mix thoroughly, tossing it in the pan using tongs.
  • Add Parmesan. Toss and allow to cook for an additional 30 seconds. Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Calories: 407kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 166mg | Sodium: 401mg | Potassium: 241mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 575IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

Pasta Mama has as many variations as you can dream up. To make it Pasta Papa, add anything you would put in an omelet—other cheeses, sausage, bacon, chicken; adjust seasonings to taste. Enjoy!


Question: Is there a dish you make at home that’s a dead ringer for a popular, pricey restaurant dish? Oh, please share!

Next Up:

Muffins So Amazing, They’re Insane!

Homemade Flour Tortillas

The Secret of Cheap and Healthy Meals


Original 2-13-2015; Updated 3-29-2019

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

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!

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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

Accessories, Tips, Secrets of Instant Pot Rockstars!

Everyone, it seems, is talking about Instant Pot—the revolutionary electric pressure cooker that for all the hype, promises to turn anyone into an overnight culinary rockstar. Well, bring it on!

Instant Pot with Beans Rice and Fresh Vegetables

The latest model (10-in-1, which means it does just about everything short of vacuuming the living room) is an egg-cooker, sauté pan, slow cooker, rice cooker, cake maker, yogurt maker, sterilizer, pressure cooker, food warmer, and steamer. Whew!

10-in-1-Instant Pot

 

Someone on Facebook may have even promised you the best Broccoli and Beef this side of Shanghai, from scratch, start-to-finish in just 15 minutes in your Instant Pot!

And the glowing reviews of IP Barbecue Short Ribs and Cheesecake (cheesecake?!) all from scratch in a matter of minutes at the hands of even a complete kitchen klutz seemed to be some kind of gift from the food universe. 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

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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:

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Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue

If you’re fresh out of ideas (let alone desire) to make one more home-cooked meal, but even the thought of another take-out or curbside pickup leaves you cold during these days of uncertainty and angst—I invite you to embrace these two words: rotisserie chickens.

A cooked chicken

 

Not exactly take-out, not completely home-cooked, think of a well-seasoned, perfectly cooked rotisserie chicken as your ace in the hole; a kitchen assistant with an extra pair of hands to help you get delicious, home-cooked meals on the table in a flash.

These days, nearly every grocery store or supermarket—even warehouse clubs—offer fully roasted, hot, and ready-to-go rotisserie chickens for around $5. In fact, rotisserie chickens are so readily available, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued safety guidelines for selecting and storing* them.

Today, I want to give you basic guidelines for what to do with a rotisserie chicken as soon as you get home. 

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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

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.

Read more

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

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

16 Brilliant Reasons to Stop Throwing Out Pickle Juice

It was a weird request. My friend Mary Ann asked if she could borrow some pickle juice. Huh? Who keeps pickle juice?

A bowl of fruit sitting on a table, with Pickle and Vinegar

The purpose of pickle juice is to keep the pickles fresh and flavorful. And when the pickles are gone, out goes the juice, right? That practice that makes Mary Ann cringe.

Here’s the deal: Mary Ann is famous for her potato salad. She makes ten pounds at a time and it disappears faster than homemade ice cream on a hot summer day. Her secret (which she confides to only a chosen few*) is sweet pickle juice. Not pickles, not relish—only the juice. And lots of it.

So, I wondered if there might be other uses for the briny stuff? A quick search of the multiple thousands of tips readers have sent to me over the years plus research online came up amazingly positive!

Dill pickle juice

Really, I had no idea that pickle juice had so many health benefits or could be used in so many ways in the kitchen.

In the Kitchen

Meat tenderizer

Most marinades to tenderize meat contain the key ingredients of vinegar and salt. Adding things like garlic, salt, pepper—even a bit of sugar improves the flavor and end result. Bingo! Those are common ingredients in pickle juice—either sweet or dill.

Use it to tenderize and flavor pork or beef—especially if you’re dealing with a particularly tough cut.

Sweet pickled chops

Arrange four pork chops in a shallow pan and sprinkle with salt. Place a slice of onion and a tablespoon of ketchup on the top of each. Pour 1/2 cup sweet pickle juice around chops. Cover and bake for 1 hour at 350 F. Oh, my goodness—you won’t believe how tender and delicious! Yum! Read more

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

I love my Instant Pot—the greatest time-saving, magic-producing, easy-to-use kitchen appliance known to [wo]mankind. I use it almost every day to make everything from eggs to pot roast and (wait for it …) cheesecake! Yes, the BEST cheesecake ever!

But I have to admit the idea of making Instant Pot Spaghetti with Meat Sauce in a single pot, all at the same time sounded fabulous. But the process just did not sit well with me.

A dish is filled with food, with Spaghetti and Sauce

Look, haven’t we learned that pasta and pressure cooking do not play well together? Pasta will turn to mush, breaking down in ways that make it not particularly edible. No wonder I was suspicious!

Listen to the real experts

Rave reviews from cooks and food enthusiasts whom I respect highly kept haunting me. I had to give it a try if only to prove once and for all that pasta in a pressure cooker is going to turn out a mushy mess, lacking distinct flavor, texture, and visual appeal. Boy was I wrong!

This method for spaghetti with meat sauce is going to knock your socks off! What’s so great is that the pasta turns out perfectly, but more than that it comes out infused with the flavors from the meat sauce. And it hugs each strand of spaghetti, clinging to it the way it’s supposed to! I find this so much better than preparing the pasta in a separate pot, then pour the meat sauce over the top to serve.

I’ve been making this once a week for a couple of months—first for dinner and then reheating the leftovers for lunch the next day (even better the next day!). And I have to say is this is the best thing to come out of my kitchen in a long time. I’ll never make spaghetti and meat sauce any other way. And once you try it, I’m predicting that you won’t either.

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

 

 

 

 

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

I have a special treat for you today. It’s a recipe. Normally I sell this recipe for $1,000 but it’s your lucky day. OK, I’m just kidding about that, but honestly, this one is worth its weight in gold, which as I write is about $1,665 per ounce.

A piece of cake sitting on top of a table

In this world, there is carrot cake and then there is scrumptious absolutely to-die-for carrot cake—the kind of cake you’ve only experienced with a $200-per-person meal at a fancy hotel (you do that all the time, right?).

It’s the kind of carrot cake that would surely be named the Grand Champion in a competition at a fine culinary school like Le Cordon Bleu Baking and Pastry Arts Program if I’d ever had such an opportunity to compete.

This is the cake that’s going to make your friends and family think you’re a genius! And don’t be surprised when it becomes your signature cake—the one they request for their birthdays. Imagine how beautiful this cake might look on your Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter buffet table.


MORE: Dinner-in-a-Box is Not What I Thought!


As you peruse this recipe, you may be tempted to make a few adjustments. Please do not do that. You’ll think 1 1/2 cups oil is excessive. It’s not. And the pineapple. Seriously? Yes. Do not doubt me.

This is the perfect recipe both in ingredients and proportions, so please follow it exactly. It’s the recipe you’ll be tempted to keep secret and good luck with that! 😉

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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

Read more

The Best Way to Cook Bacon (Easiest, Too!)

I must admit to a kind of love-hate relationship with bacon. On the one hand, my family loves bacon, which means I cook it often. And until I discovered the best, easiest way to do that, I dreaded having to fry bacon!

A sandwich sitting on top of a paper plate, with Bacon

The problem in two words: splatters and smell. I’m not a fan of splatters all over the cooktop. And that lingering smell of stale bacon throughout the house for hours and beyond? That nearly knocks me out. Then there’s the problem of keeping the first batch hot and crispy when only about 1/4 pound fits well in a stovetop skillet.

Trust me, I’ve tried all the methods—stovetop, microwave, griddle, and outdoor grill. The outdoor grill has been mostly my go-to method, but when it’s 10 F. with a foot of snow out there, not so much.

And all that is history, now that I’m hooked on the absolute best way to cook bacon—in the oven. It’s easy with minimal if any splatters, the smell of bacon is all but limited to the baking time, I can cook an entire pound of bacon at one time, and clean up is a cinch!

Why is oven-baked the best method?

Until I tried it, I assumed cooking in the oven would make an even bigger mess than using my cast iron skillet on the stovetop. And time-consuming. Just the opposite is true. I can prepare an entire pound of bacon without having to baby it and tend to it. Oven-baked, it stays flat with no splatters. Even better? The “fragrance” of bacon is short-lived.

Read more

Ask Me Anything: Cosigning Parents, Silent Stylist, Rum Cake Recipe, and More

Once again, it’s mailbag day, when I reach in and pull out your questions. While there are always more than I could possibly answer in one sitting, I try to select the ones that will have the greatest interest to most of you, my Dear Readers.

Question and Image

What’s inside? Here are the questions I’m answering from my bulging reader mailbag. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question. Or just scroll through to read all. Enjoy!

Contents

1. Gray “scratches” on fine dinnerware

2. Help, we co-signed student loans!

3. Spreadable butter disaster?

4. Spouse demands the purse strings

5. IP Vanilla Extract 

6. The unscrupulous stylist

7. Rum Cake Recipe, Pleeeese!

 

Q1: Do you have a tip on how to clean gray lines and scratches from my white Pfaltzgraff dishes? Barb

Pfaltzgraff has been making dinnerware for many years and has used earthenware, stoneware, porcelain,  and bone china at some point in its history. Most Pfaltzgraff patterns currently in production are made primarily of stoneware and earthenware, with only a few patterns being offered in ironstone and porcelain. The good news is that all Pfaltzgraff dinnerware is microwave and dishwasher safe.

The appearance of gray lines or “scratches” on Pfaltzgraff dinnerware is not a defect—in fact, it is quite common. These marks appear when metal utensils come in contact with the hard glazes used by the manufacturer. You can remove these marks easily using a variety of cleansers. Pfaltzgraff makes its own Pfaltzgraff Stoneware & Porcelain Cleaner, but it is a little pricey. Read more

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

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 Family-Friendly Finger Foods Your Kids Will Love

Are trips through the closest fast-food joint driving a hole through your food budget? It’s no wonder. Prices on all foods are sky-rocketing, but fast food takes that prize. Yikes!

 

A plate of food and a cup of coffee

 

Unlike supermarkets where every week you can find fabulous sales, you’ll never find sales at Wendy’s, McDonald’s or Burger King. Or any other fast-food restaurant for that matter. I don’t consider an occasional coupon to be a Sale.

I know what you’re thinking: Chicken. Chicken Nuggets, Chicken Fingers, Chicken Sandwiches—they’re all so tasty from these places, so convenient and so kid-friendly.

Consider this: In less time than it takes you to get into the car and drive to the closest drive-thru, you can make your own fast-food chicken fare—for half the price, or less. In fact, you can make a fabulous coating mix to mimic the best-coated chicken you’ve ever eaten, in five minutes flat.

And if that’s not enough, you’ll get three bonuses for your effort:

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Every Busy Cook Needs This Easy Go-To Recipe

I may be the only person in the world for whom this happens, but I doubt it. On a whim, I invite a bunch of friends over for Sunday Dinner. Or the phone rings and just like that I need to get a meal on the table in a big hurry because guests are on their way.

A bowl of food on a plate, with Meatball and Bread

Those are the occasions that I run to an amazing recipe that is easy to prepare, delicious to eat and quite impressive, too. Think: Italian restaurant in a pan. While it’s in the oven I make a big salad and we’re good to go.

This is a recipe that kids love as well as adults. It’s just amazing and I bless the day that the folks at Pillsbury came up with the idea. I, of course, have tweaked the recipe bit, but I give credit where credit is due.

Because life is uncertain, you will always find a bag of Italian meatballs from Costco and several loaves of Italian bread in my freezer, a big jar of marinara sauce in my grocery stockpile and cheese in the fridge.

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Muffins So Amazing, They’re Insane!

I love to bake, however, baking has not always been fond of me. We’ve had our moments. It wasn’t until I surrendered to the following recipes exactly that our relationship made the turn.

I had to come to the point that I was willing to measure the ingredients, follow directions and believe that little things like “folding in” does not mean “beating it to death,” “one-cup of flour” doesn’t mean, “that looks about right,” and “butter softened,” does not mean “boiling like a witch’s cauldron.”

Food on a table, with Muffin and Blueberry

One day, I was reminded about how far I’ve come as a home baker when one of my staff could be heard throughout the office, “These blueberry muffins are insane!” I just smiled, choosing not to confess to how easy they are to make—cheap too, at about 25 cents each. Compare that to my local Panera Bread drive-thru where Blueberry Muffins are $2.79 each—$33.48 a dozen. That’s what I call insane!

Back to the office muffins. Sure, Max called them blueberry muffins, but I call them Einstein Muffins. delicious That’s because every time I make them, I feel like a genius.

But it didn’t stop blueberry muffins. My confidence building, I added Banana Muffins (below) to the office menu and to rave reviews, I might add!

You’re going to love both blueberry and banana muffins and prepare to feel like a genius, too!

Food on a table, with Blueberry and Muffin

Einstein Blueberry Muffins

I call them Einstein Muffins. That’s because every time I make them, I feel like a genius. You can feel like a genius, too
3.8 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Baking
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 201kcal

Ingredients

Muffins

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup white granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Crumb Topping

  • ½ cup white sugar
  • cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup butter, diced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Grease 12 muffin cups or line with muffin liners.

To make muffins

  • In a bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, and baking powder. 
  • Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Beat slightly with a fork. 
  • Mix this into the flour mixture, stirring until fully incorporated. 
  • Fold in blueberries. 
  • Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes or until done. which means when a toothpick is inserted, it comes out just barely clean. Caution: Err on the side of underbaking for the yummiest, moistest muffins. Yield: 12 muffins

To make crumb topping

  • Place sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon in a bowl.
  • Mix with a fork until crumbly and sprinkle over muffins before baking.

Nutrition

Calories: 201kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 140mg | Potassium: 113mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 401IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!
A close up of food, with Banana and Muffin

Banana Muffins

Best banana muffins, ever!
4.67 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Baking
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 259kcal

Ingredients

Muffins

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 or 4 bananas (4 medium or 3 large ripe bananas) mashed
  • ¾ cup white, granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • cup butter, melted

Crumb topping

  • cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions

Make Muffins

  • Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Lightly grease 12 muffin cups or line with muffin papers.
  • In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 
  • In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg, and melted butter. 
  • Stir the banana mixture and optional walnuts into the flour mixture just until all are moistened. 
  • Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle crumb topping over the tops
  • Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin, comes out clean. Err on the side of underbaking, even if the centers appear to be a little sunken.

Make Crumb Topping

  • In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon.
  • Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

Nutrition

Calories: 259kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 259mg | Potassium: 93mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 236IU | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

Question: What money-saving tactic do you use that makes you feel like a genius? Don’t be shy!

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