Cloth Napkins

This isn’t a recipe post, but a frugal saving money post which in turn helps to benefit the ability to make delicious meals! Check out the lovely post about using cloth napkins <<<<< click and read if you are interested!! Our family uses cloth napkins and they are great. I find them much softer and more absorbent than paper napkins. Not to mention the cost savings (which I like to roll over into buying yummy ingredients for recipes). We also use white “rags” as my children affectionately call them – they are harder workers than they typical paper towel and one bunch of $11 white kitchen cloths at Costco last for at least 5 years. I can’t remember the last time I purchased paper napkins or paper towels. Such a wonderful and easy way to save on your grocery bill. I can’t do all the math now, but I’m guessing that if you do use paper towels, you probably spend more than $11 dollars on them for 5 years. Yes, washing is a cost to consider – but again the total cost is certainly less than the cost of spending on paper towels and napkins!

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Breakfast Pizza

breakfastpizza

The morning of Thanksgiving, we love to make this breakfast pizza! It’s filling and a great brunch type meal to keep you full until the big feast later. You can make it any time of the year though of course. I like to use a pre-made dough from Trader Joes, but check out the original recipe from Smitten Kitchen here to see how to make your own pizza dough.

Ingredients:

6 strips bacon
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups grated mozzarella
6 large eggs

Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced chives
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 shallot, minced

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees 30 minutes before you are ready to bake the pizza.

Prepare the dough and toppings: Fry the bacon in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until crisp. Cool on a paper-towel-lined plate; roughly chop.

Generously dust the surface of a pizza peel or large inverted sheet pan with flour and place the stretched dough on it. Sprinkle the dough with half of the Parmesan, mozzarella and bacon. Crack 3 eggs over the top and season with salt and pepper.

Bake the pizza: Shake the pizza peel slightly to make sure the dough is not sticking. Carefully lift any sections that are sticking and sprinkle a bit more flour underneath, then slide the pizza directly onto the baking stone in one quick forward-and-back motion. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating after 5 minutes. When the crust is golden, the cheese is melted and the egg yolks are cooked, use the peel to transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Sprinkle half of the parsley, chives, scallions and shallot on top, cook for another 5 minutes.. Prepare the second pizza in the same way.

Maren’s Dinner in a Squash

 

 

My neighbor and friend Maren gave me this cool idea of cooking dinner in a squash! I peeked in her oven while she was baking it – being the weirdly food obsessed person I am – it smelled so yummy and looked creative! The idea mulled around in the back of my mind for quite awhile …. then I was super lucky to get added to a recipe email thread, where Jessie from Bites asked her cooking friends to reply all with their fav recipes. One of them was stuffed squash – Perfect! I took some from Maren’s recipe and also from the email thread. Then Andrew found this great step by step on how to cook dinner in a squash. The final product was delicious! We used italian pork sausage, apples, bell peppers, onions, kale … super yum. I can’t wait to make it again.

What You Need

Ingredients
1 winter squash, like acorn, kabocha, red kuri, sweet dumpling, delicata, spaghetti or any other grapefruit-sized (or slightly larger) squash
2 to 3 cups of filling

General amounts for filling — to equal 2 to 3 cups total:
1/2 to 1 cup protein — sausage, chicken, pork, tempeh, or baked tofu
1 to 2 cups veggies — onions, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, greens
1/2 cup cooked grains and/or nuts — barley, quinoa, millet, farro, rice, walnuts, almonds, pecans
1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheese
1 to 3 teaspoons herbs or spices (we used a pinch of cinnamon, trader joes 21 seasoning salute, garlic salt)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the squash for roasting: Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Slice the squash in half from stem to root and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Transfer the squash to a baking dish: Place the squash halves cut-side-down in a baking dish and pour in enough hot water to fill the pan by about 1/4 inch. Cover the dish loosely with foil and place the dish in the oven.
  3. Roast the squash: Roast the squash until very soft and tender when poked with a fork or paring knife, 30 to 50 minutes. Exact roasting time will depend on the size and variety of your squash.
  4. Prepare the filling: While the squash is roasting, prepare the filling. Depending on the size of your squash, 2 to 3 cups of combined ingredients is usually sufficient. You can combine leftovers from other meals (cooked chicken, roasted vegetables, etc.) or you can prepare a fresh filling. Cook any raw meats and raw vegetables and combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust the spices, salt, and pepper to your liking.
  5. Stuff the squash halves: Flip the cooked squash halves so they form bowls. Rub the inside with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide the filling between the halves — it’s fine to really stuff the wells and also to mound the filling on top.
  6. Bake the stuffed squash halves until bubbly: Re-cover the pan with the foil and bake the halves for another 15 to 20 minutes until both are hot and bubbly. Top with extra cheese and serve immediately.

Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot

 

 

I just discovered this incredibly easy way to prepare a whole chicken! Seriously, no prep AT ALL! Love it. The chicken is tender and great for shredding into tacos, soups, salads, etc.

4 lb Whole Chicken

Salt Chicken

Place in crockpot, add in lemons and garlic if you have it – if not, no problem!

Cook on High for 3 hours. If 5 lb bird, cook 3.5 hrs.

Allow chicken to rest 10 minutes before cutting into it. The skin will not be crisp like a roasted chicken, but the meat will be moist and tender!

Don’t forget to use that chicken later for homemade chicken broth!!

Susie’s Chicken Enchilada Soup

 

Susie inspired me with her talk about chicken enchilada soup! I did my best to recreate her vision after she visited us. Thankfully, soups are forgiving and you can play around with this recipe using a few simple ideas as a base.

Sautee in butter or olive oil:

Onions, garlic, bell peppers

Add in:

Enchilada Sauce

Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

Shredded cooked chicken (about 2 breasts)

Corn or canned cream corn

Beans (black)

Cheese (a few handfuls of a hearty cheddar)

Adjust flavor with spices:

Cumin, Garlic Salt, Chili Powder, Salt, Salsa

If you soup is too thick, thin it out with some milk/water combo.

Serve with chips, cheese, green onions, cilantro on top!

 

Overnight Steel Cut Oats

I’m not sure how I’ve had this blog for so long without posting the overnight slow cooker steel cut oats recipes!!! Seriously, we LOVE these. They are amazing. Monica at the YummyLife has several different flavors and we love them all. Apple Cinnamon, Cherry Almond, Banana Coconut, and Pumpkin Pie! Plus her steps on how to make your slow cooker act as a double broiler are genius. Throw all the ingredients in your crock pot and go to bed – clean up is super easy – and when you wake up your house smells delightful. I particularly enjoy these recipes on mornings when everyone has to rush out the door – no stress already made breakfast!

Tonight we are making Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal. But check out her site, there are links to all the other flavors as well. Yummy Life indeed!

Pumpkin Chili

A delicious fall dish – lovely combo of flavors! I was able to do a bit of freezer clean out too! I don’t remember who told me about chopping up extra summer veggies (like the abundance of bell peppers we had this year) and freezing them – but whoever did is a lifesaver! Didn’t need to chop up a single veggie for this dish – all was pre-chopped in my freezer and ready to go. Same with the precooked frozen beans! So so easy and cheap. Love things like that!

Because I made this without going to the grocery store first, I made adjustments as you will see. Originally thought I would be halving the recipe because I didn’t have 2 lbs of meat, but I think in hindsight I could have used the full amount of pumpkin and pumpkin spices and it would have been just fine! However if you are nervous about the idea of the pumpkin flavor, you can keep it in half like I did and it will taste more like a traditional chili.

Thanks to Jessie at Bites for this fun fall dish!

2 pounds ground beef (I used 1.3 lbs)
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced (Used a medley of colored peppers)
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained (instead 2 cups black beans, 2 pinto)
1 (46 fluid ounce) can tomato juice (Didn’t have much of this, subbed in a cup or two of chicken broth, added a small can of v8)
1 (28 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes with juice
1 15 oz. can canned pumpkin puree (I used half although I wish I had used more)
1 T. pumpkin pie spice (also used half since my pumpkin use was half, but could have done more)
1/4 cup chili powder (taste your chili first before you add in the chili powder, you might prefer more or less)
2 t. cumin (used half)
2 T. white sugar (did not use sugar, instead a small spoonful of honey)

In a large pot over medium heat, cook beef until brown; drain. Stir in onion and bell pepper and cook 5 minutes. Stir in beans, tomato juice, diced tomatoes and pumpkin puree. Season with pumpkin pie spice, chili powder and sugar. Simmer 1 hour.