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Wacky Pilaf

December 28th, 2007 at 10:19 pm

You can make a pilaf out of any cooked grain, not just rice. I love through the bulk bins of grains in the grocery store and picking up some. It does mean that a couple of months later I often have a bit of this and a bit of that, not enough to make a side by itself. Instead of buying more at that moment I collect the bits and make a wacky pilaf. This is one of my favorites that I made for Christmas.

Wacky Pilaf

1 minced onion
1 chopped carrot
2 cups quinoa
1/2 cup kasha (buckwheat groat)
1/2 cup wild rice
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
salt, pepper

Soak the quinoa for about 15 minutes in twice the amount of water (2 cups quinoa means 4 cups water). Swish the grain in the water a bit. This is to remove the grain's bitter, soapy tasting coating.

Boil the wild rice in a small saucepan until slightly underdone, about 20 minutes. Drain. Wild rice should be al dente chewy, not mushy.

Boil the kasha in a small saucepan until done, about 2-3 minutes. Kasha cooks very quickly - when done, drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, drain again.

Drain the soaked, raw quinoa. Its a small grain, you will need a fine mesh colander.

Saute the onion and carrot in the butter or olive oil over medium heat until carrot is soft, about 10 minutes. Add the wet quinoa to the onion and carrot, stir to mix, cover pan with lid, then turn down the heat to low and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Stir after 5 minutes to prevent sticking.

Add kasha and wild rice to the pan, stir to coat. If necessary, add a bit more oil. Quinoa is done when it turns translucent. Salt and pepper to taste, serve warm.

This pilaf microwaves very well. 1 minute and its perfect.

Turkey Salad recipe

November 24th, 2007 at 11:45 pm

Turkey Salad

1 med onion, minced
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup craisins (sugared, dried cranberries), chopped
9 oz cold turkey, chopped
2 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp red sauce from mango pickle jar (optional)

Mix all ingredients together. Delicious on top of a toasted english muffin.

I love adding the red, salty sauce that the mango pickles come in - a little bit of heat and red color is nice in this.

pear mango cranberry crisp

November 24th, 2007 at 03:11 pm

Saving log - none, haven't been close to the tip box

Spending log (22nd) - $3.25 coffee, bagel
Spending log (23rd) - $3.25 coffee, bagel + $.45 apple + $23 tickets
Spending log (24th) - $3.50 coffee, chocolate croissant + $44 groceries ($4 groceries + $40 as a point of sale ATM)

Had fun for Thanksgiving. Our Duvall guests - who usually are late - didn't arrive at the same time the turkey got done, at least arrived soon enough so that the turkey was still good. We did the traditional - rubbed with kosher salt and sage for 1 hr, wiped salt off, poked skin with rosemary (which we had a lot of), roasted with a tent on it for 4 hrs. Didn't stuff it. Made the turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, cranberry sauce, roasted brussel sprouts with pecans, and we had a bit of the dessert that I made for the next party. Our guests brought zucchini/cranberry/oat bread, greens (love greens!), a bit of muscovy duck (very dark meat), squash casserole.

Arranged the dining room table in the living room (more space) and used the large coffee table 3 ft away as a buffet for the turkey and dishes. Nothing that scares me more than juggling a lot of dishes with the wine glasses, the centerpiece, and the plates. Just makes everything easier.

I got a lot of raves for the dessert, so to keep me from typing it twice, here is the recipe...

Pear Mango Cranberry Crisp

3 large bartlett pears
1 12 oz package dried mango ($5 at Uwajimaya)
1/8 bag of cranberries
zest from 1 orange peel
lemon juice, water

Grind cranberries in a small food processor, put in a bowl, add zest, add 1/2 tbsp sugar.

Soak dried mango in warm water until softened (about 1 hr). Drain completely, chop coarsely

Add a tbsp of lemon juice to 1 quart water in a bowl. Slice unpeeled pears lengthwise into 1/8 inch widths, getting rid of seeds and the woody center stem. Slip pear slices into lemon water.

3/4 cup flour
1/2 sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick cold butter
(amounts can be doubled if necessary)

Mix dry ingredients well. Chop cold butter into small pieces, cut butter into the dry ingredients using a fork or a pastry kneader. Don't overwork it - the topping should resemble coarse breadcrumbs.

Drain pear slices and arrange them evenly & lengthwise in an ungreased shallow pan. Sprinkle with sugar (optional-pears and mangos are going to be sweet already). Layer the chopped mango over the pears. Dot with the cranberry mixture. Sprinkle everything with the crisp mixture.

Bake at 350F until fruit is tender, juices are bubbling and crisp is golden brown. What worked for me was baking the crisp at the bottom of third of the oven until the fruit filling was done, then I put the pan over the broiler and broiled the top for about 5 minutes.

chattering not good for eggs

November 18th, 2007 at 05:28 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $13 brunch + $51 groceries

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3 bagel, coffee + $30 groceries

I've picked up the holiday grocery shopping pace, first by getting ingredients to make the sides, but also to come up with pre-Thanksgiving meals. I tend to not want to make and eat a lot of poultry the week before so that the thanksgiving dinner's extra tasty.

The Saturday grocery shopping was a bit fraught - the express lane was not busy, so I was waved in even with a shopping cart and a lot more than 10 items. The cashier asked me if could find everything. Well, no, I said, I couldn't find sauerkraut. Aisle 20 in the freezer section - shall I get it? Sure - two jars. The cashier ran off for a minute, and his line filled up. Semi-dirty looks all around. What do you say?...the cashier waved me in! Big Grin

This grocery is a double decker, with an entrance/parking on the second floor. It also has a cart escalator that moves your cart in tandem with you. Word to the wise with these things - seriously front load the shopping cart. I back loaded the shopping cart, so the front "axel" slipped the chain a bit and the cart began to stutter and chatter. My escalator outran the cart escalator, so I waited until the cart got up eventually.

The ramifications came when DH unpacked. Uh oh - the 6 pack of eggs were destroyed. One egg survived - kinda makes me wonder what that chicken ate! I handed DH the receipt and he got new eggs, not many questions asked.

Last night's supper was pork and sauerkraut in the crockpot - the recipe

Crockpot Pork & Sauerkraut

2 piece pork rib
1 jar sauerkraut

Open jar & open packet of pork (hah hah), put in 1/2 jar of sauerkraut at bottom of crockpot, lay the pork on top, finish by adding rest of sauerkraut. Cover with crockpot lid, set to high if you're going to be there, low if you aren't. Done in about 4 hrs if set on high. Done when you get home if set on low.

I wanted to mention that there is no added water in this recipe. The jar of sauerkraut has water, which you should put in. Also, there's no need to fill the crockpot. This recipe only fills my welcome-to-the-70s ancient crockpot halfway.

And when its done. Cooked pork and sauerkraut over heat makes lots of juice. Apologies that this picture makes the crockpot look different - I needed the flash for the picture.

goth potato salad

October 30th, 2007 at 09:17 pm

So first a pic - it disappeared completely during the potluck.

Now the recipe

Goth Potato Salad

2 lb purple fingerling potatoes (nice and small)
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/3 jar of sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil from sun dried tomatoes
2 handfuls whole pecans
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 c pesto
salt, pepper

Clean the skins of purple potatoes. Do not peel, do not poke. Steam potatoes covered, without allowing them to touch the level of boiling, salted water. I set up a colander with the potatoes over the boiling water and put a lid on the top. Potatoes are done when a fork can pierce them.

Allow potatoes to cool, do not splash water on them to cool them down. They will continue to cook a bit. Cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces.

Add chopped onions, sun dried tomatoes, and pecans to potatoes. Add the olive oil from the tomatoes to coat and gently toss.

Mix pesto with 2 tbsp olive oil, thining to a creamy consistency. Add pesto to potatoes, gently toss.

Salt and pepper to taste.

squash soup and edamame

March 10th, 2007 at 06:38 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $10 Denny's breakfast + $28 Trader Joe's

If I can't think of anything to say, I'll go for the recipes. The curry on Wednesday left quite a bit of thick coconut cream, so I semi-frugally used it like this - it also had the advantage of getting rid of a number of jars in the fridge:

Squash soup

1 lb package Trader Joe's squash chunks
1 can chicken stock
2 tbsp red pepper spread + 2 tbsp water to rinse out the jar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp brown sugar
1/3 can coconut cream - paste consistency
salt and pepper

Simmer squash chunks and chicken stock in a saucepan, until squash chunks are tender. Add the red pepper, cinnamon. Mash squash chunks in the soup, then puree until smooth. Heat gently, then stir in the coconut cream and brown sugar. Salt and pepper to taste.

I just didn't feel up to getting a squash then carving it up from its hard shell...I figure that avoiding the cost of a trip to the emergency room with a knife stuck in my hand has got to be frugal. Smile

And because I'm on the recipe vibe, I have a foolproof way to cook edamame - soybeans in the pod. Don't make a face, they are terrific, and I feel like I can mindlessly snack on them. Not to mention they are .99/lb.


1 lb bag
salted water - 1 tsp salt in water
kosher salt

Boil the salted water - get it rockin' and rollin'. Take the bag from the freezer, open and dump in water. The water will cool and the edamame pods will sink. Watch as the water returns to the boil. When all the edamame pods float, they are ready. Should take about 3 minutes

Dump the pods in a colander, then vigorously shake and flip the pods in the colander. You want the pods dry, but warm for the next step.

Put the edamame pods in a bowl, then sprinkle with kosher salt. You know you've done it right when the little hairs on the pods will catch the kosher salt, but they are dry enough so that salt doesn't melt.

Eating edamame - you don't eat the pod, you use your teeth to squeeze the beans out of the pod. Think sunflower seeds.

Salad dressing

January 14th, 2007 at 07:57 pm

Yippee - bags of spinach and carrots were 10/10$. I know that salad bags are unfrugal, but having to only rinse once rather than rinsing over and over to get the sand out of the bunch was worth it to me. (2$)

So far I have been doing okay with two of the resolutions - vegetables/salad as the late night snack and 10 minutes of calisthentics. The other ones, not so much.

My best recent purchase, one that has given me more than 5$ worth of pleasure has been a plastic Zyliss shaker. I've been fooling around with making salad dressings, which have got to be cheaper than buying a bottle. Two recipes:

Tahini lemon dressing

2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
lukewarm water
lemon juice
salt, pepper
lemon zest (optional)

Add ingredients to the shaker & shake away. Consistency should be the consistency of half and half.

Oil and vinegar
1 part red/white wine vinegar
3 parts olive oil
salt, garlic powder, pepper

Add ingredients to the shaker & shake away.

The deluxe minestrone

January 13th, 2007 at 07:30 pm

Did the usual Saturday, lunch out and grocery shopping. To keep our sanity, DH and I split up. He's pretty aimless where food and grocery is concerned. He loves the beer, junk food and fruit - everything else is up to me.

:eyeroll: If somebody can teach me how to make a cursor eye-roll, I'll be grateful. (Thanks, LuckyRobin!) I've been going through the eyeroll phase lately.

Anyhow, DH requested minestone soup, so while he took the aimless route, I picked up the produce and Italian sausage and found tuna for .50/can. Lately that's been a good price, so I stocked up a bit. I filled two large, heavy grocery bags for $21.

With the snow and ice, it was a great time to make the deluxe version of minestrone soup. This isn't diet food, particularly.

3 Italian sausage, sliced. Love the hot stuff!
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely sliced
2 carrots, sliced in discs
1 qt turkey stock or 2 cans chicken stock
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomato (fresh roma tomatoes)
1 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
1/3 head of cabbage, sliced thinly and chopped (what I had on hand)
1 zucchini, chopped
3 medium white potatoes, diced
1.5 c chickpeas, soaked for at least an hour (lentils work here, too)
green beans - I used frozen
1 head fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup orzo pasta
olive oil
parmesian cheese heel
bay leaf, thyme, margoram, salt, pepper

Soak chickpeas, then boil until soften. I remove the outer skins; it prevents "colon reverb". Set aside.

In stock pot (I think mine's a 10 qt), add a couple tablespoons olive oil, and saute sliced sausage, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, margoram, celery, carrot until veg is soft and sausage is brown.

Add turkey stock, diced tomato, all the other vegetables, chickpeas, parsley and water to about 3/4 of stock pot. Low simmer for about 1 hr. Taste and correct for salt, seasoning, consistency, etc. If soup is too thick, add water.

Add orzo and parmesian cheese heel. Simmer until orzo is done - about 15 minutes.

Timing is very forgiving, and the vegetables are really whatever you have in whatever form you have them in - fresh and frozen's better than canned.

The cheese heel really makes it for me. When DH and I buy (or are gifted) cheese, we usually save the heel aka the rind aka the cheese closest to the label. Don't put the label in - you lose the gourmet effect.

Crock pot soup

January 6th, 2007 at 10:15 pm

DH boiled up the turkey bones 2 nights ago, so we have many quarts of rich turkey stock. Its turkey soup(s) for the next few days.

Decided to do it a bit differently, and a bit more frugally. I used the crockpot to make a quart or two of turkey vegetable rice soup. I avoided using the stove, used up several vegetables on their last legs, and used already cooked rice.

1/3 of a crockpot of turkey stock
1 can chicken stock (help get the color right)
dash of kitchen bouquet (also to colorize)
14 oz can diced tomatoes
2/3 red onion, minced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, sliced and chopped
turkey breast
frozen corn, pea, green bean (various amounts)
water to fill crockpot
salt, pepper, thyme, dill, parsley, garlic powder to taste.

Cover, set crockpot on high. Wait 3 hours.
I serve with the cooked rice, because I like to keep the broth clear. I just think clear soup keeps better in the refrigerator.

I also wanted to only make a relatively small batch of something, to keep us from mindlessly eating food just to move things along. Often I would make a ton of something to save time (and yep, it saves time), but at the risk DH and I would eat and eat and overeat.

And different iterations of turkey soup will keep us eating turkey soup. Big Grin

T-day and today

November 24th, 2006 at 10:51 am

Hope you all had a tasty thanksgiving! DH and I went to Issaquah, the next town east of Bellevue, which is in itself the next town east of Seattle. The invites gave an official start time of 12:00 noon, with a dinner ETA of 4:00pm.

We got there at 1:30pm, and we were the first people there, as usual, so we were put to work clearing, vacuuming and setting up. DH and I are used to this. The one T-day we showed when we knew everyone else would show was the day that they were wondering where we were. And it was our way of getting caught up with the hosts -- a private party as it were.

There was plenty to clear and clean. The father of the hostess had gone into the hospital with cancer, so his living quarters had shrunk, so the excess stuff landed in the house. The hostess and I gave each other a hug in support.

But here's a frugal dilemma. When you find change when you are cleaning at home, its yours. When you find change when you are cleaning a friend's house, whose is it? I gave thirty-five cents to the hostess, who absently gave it back to me. I absently put it in my pocket, so when I got home, I found it again. I guess I got paid for about an hour of work.

The turducken roasting was late, but whew, it was in the oven not the smoker, so that was one gravy making hurdle gone. Gravy making went pretty smoothly - although my judgment was hamstrung by about 3 glasses of wine (helped with the whisking though) and the fact that there was only whole wheat flour.

The workaround was to make a butter/whole wheat flour roux to cook the flour for a good fifteen minutes before adding pan drippings and stock. Duck pan drippings hide the flour flavor pretty well and having a whole stock pot of poultry stock means that anybody can make great gravy then. Smile Host wanted the gravy a bit thicker than I did and thought that flour taste was still there, but those were pretty easy to fix, just keep the heat on a bit longer. Filled 3 gravy boats.

Didn't take any leftovers home, for which my metabolism is grateful.

Spending log - 3$ pumpkin latte & biscotti (gotta pace yourself)

Minestrone soup

September 27th, 2006 at 07:16 pm

Caught the cold that was going around in a moderate way. The symptoms of this one are congestion and being very, very tired. Stayed home and made a pot of minestone soup for the fluids. The produce in the refrigerator looked pretty unhealthy (I want minestrone, not cream of pencillin) so I conserved my energy and hoofed it three blocks to the Safeway (sigh). - 4.95$

Many Italians would laugh out loud at my soup, but it works. My big trick is to slice hot sausage into discs, then saute them in a bit of olive oil so they turn into little meatballs. Then you add lots of bay leaves, onion, lots of garlic, carrot, stalk of celery, zucchini, any other Italian-esque vegetables, chicken stock, chopped tomatoes, soaked chickpeas, parsely, oregano.

Cough, cough. . Bye.

Salmon cakes

August 6th, 2006 at 11:16 pm

DH told me about the $5 off any produce coupon after I bought the cheap produce. Normally, I would have used it to buy my ordinary stuff, so today I tried a different tactic - I used the coupon to get fruit I rarely get like white Rainier cherries and an heirloom melon. Total treat for $2.

Joy of Cooking had a recipe for fish cakes that I tried out. I can't ever follow a recipe straight even the first time. Its a quirk of mine.

Basically, the recipe was 1.5 lbs of flaked fish, finely chopped onion, lemon juice, spices (old bay and parsely in the recipe), an egg yolk and 5 tbsp mayo as binders. Form cakes, dredge in breadcrumbs and fry in 2 parts vegetable oil and 1 part butter. Not exactly health food, but darn tasty and a pretty efficient way to hide a small amount of cooked and mashed vegetables. I snuck in three of those leftover little white boiling potatoes.

Cooking is one of the most important frugal skills in my arsenal. Prepared food is always more expensive than the raw ingredients and it sure makes me feel clever when I can hide leftovers in a tasty way. To think I used to joke that the dorm cafeteria used to do the same thing! Except they weren't very clever about it.

I just don't like seeing containers in the refrigerator for more than a couple of days because after that, no one wants to risk taking an exploratory peek or sniff.

Tomorrow is DH's birthday - a restaurant trip tomorrow night. Then in the next couple of days comes salmon salad sandwiches and salmon macaroni salad.

Gazpacho days

July 23rd, 2006 at 06:43 pm

I made two pitchers of gazpacho this afternoon. Gazpacho seems to be the summer recipe for cleaning out the produce section of the refrigerator; minestrone the winter one.

I threw out two heads of romaine and my pound of green beans. That depressed me tremendously, but for my gazpacho I did manage to salvage two half heads of romaine, a few leaves of raditchio (sic), a carrot, green onions, several radishes, and a whole lot of tomatoes, 1 bunch of parsely, 1 bunch of cilantro, grind everything up along with 1 can of chicken stock, 2 cans of tomato sauce (paste tastes metallic--blegh), salt, pepper, lemon juice, hot sauce, 5 garlic cloves, olive oil.

It'll be the all-liquid fiber diet this week.

Seattle this summer has a 'literary latte' deal. Read three books and you get a 4$ Starbucks card, and your name is entered into a drawing. I made it to the library tonight in time to submit my sheet and get the gift card.

Starbucks is not my favorite but it'll be useful for the end-of-the-month drill. I've noticed that the Starbucks card seems to be Seattle alternative currency. You can get one for a prize, as a reward, for recommmending someone for some such. If you look in any Seattleite's wallet, you'll find at least a couple. Too bad there's no easy way to manage the cards. I wish there was an easy way to figure out how much you have on a particular card.