Category Archives: Frugal Recipes

Two Simple Summer Treats

These are so simple I feel silly for even posting them.

Frozen bananas on a stick.  Okay, not really a recipe but it does go to show that something as simple as a banana can be served, if not as desert, you can at least call it a treat. 

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Easy peasy.  Bananas seem to get sweeter when you freeze them.  Of course you can dip them in chocolate and roll them in nuts, but we keep it simple around here.  We dip them in peanut butter as we eat them. 

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Silly, I know.  But just a reminder that dessert can be simple, too.  I toasted large shred coconut in a skillet and sprinkled it on top to make it look more like a dessert than just a bowl of cantaloupe.  I bet your impressed, huh?   Well, I did tell you I would be sharing “simple” recipes this month. You were warned. 

What are some of your super simple recipes? 

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Summer Sampler

Nothing says summer like homegrown tomatoes.

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Thanks to a sweet family sharing their garden’s abundance with us we were able to have tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers.

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Today we made salt and vinegar cucumbers, as my husband calls them.  He loves these and I love that he’s so easy to please.  He looks forward to having them.  So easy and so yummy.

Peel and slice cucumbers and onions and put in a container.  Pour equal parts vinegar and water over slices.  I use filtered water.  And salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate. 

We just eat these as a side to whatever we are having for dinner.  My husband has been known to eat them between slices of bread.  Mostly, everyone just eats them straight from the jar. 

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Another easy summer side is tomato cucumber salad.  Peel cucumbers and cut into cubes.  Cube tomatoes.  Put in container and drizzle with olive oil and a splash of wine vinegar and Italian seasoning.  I like to chop up some fresh basil and toss that in as well. 

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I love it when dinner is simple!  Clean, fresh, uncomplicated flavors.  Blasted Chicken, cucumber tomato salad,  salt and vinegar cucumbers, and sauteed mushrooms.  And Julia, I’m sorry, but I did crowd the mushrooms.

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It doesn’t get much easier than Blasted Chicken.  Yes, I know it’s somewhere around 90 degrees these days and turning on the oven is the last thing you want to do.  But considering how simple this is I’m willing to make concessions.  I’ll suffer the bit of extra warmth in the kitchen for this super simple dish. 

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  You heard correctly.  500 degrees.  You can use a whole roasting/fryer chicken or parts.  Today I used thighs and drumsticks with skin on.  That part is very important.  It must have the skin on.  For a whole chicken put in a baking dish drizzle with just a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Put in oven for about one hour.

For thighs and drumsticks, I lined the bottom half of my broiler pan with foil.  You could use a cookie sheet I suppose.  Bake only about 30 minutes. 

Don’t be alarmed if you see a little bit of smoking.  It’s just some splattering.  I usually don’t experienced that, but that’s what the range hood fan is for.  Right?

I love how this chicken comes out with crunchy, salty skin but locks in all the juices making a really moist, juicy chicken.  It should look very golden and crispy.  When you cut into it the juices should run clear.  Remember, at 500 degrees it doesn’t take long.

Of course there is always just simple sliced tomato with salt and pepper as a summer side.

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What are your favorite garden dishes? 

Bread Machine soft pretzels

So I was inspired by this post to pull my Zojorushi Bread Machine out of the closet. However, I decided to make the soft pretzel recipe from my Zo cookbook instead of bagel recipe from the above link.  We may try those next.

You could use any recipe and just use the dough setting on your machine.  I think they are all pretty similar.

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Unfortunately, I forgot the nacho cheese sauce, but mustard or cream cheese are yummy too.  Serve with sliced apples and Elephant Milk. (Peanut butter milk. Not milk from an elephant. That would be gross.)

What’s your favorite bread machine recipe?

Eggless French Toast

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One of my best kitchen gadgets is the electric knife.  I’ve had this knife for many years. It is great for making evenly sliced bread with almost no crumb. I slice the loaves and then freeze them.  Sometimes I make French Toast and freeze it for super quick breakfasts. I like Eggless French Toast for no other reason than I don’t like biting into french toast that has the random bite of egg taste to it.

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Here is the recipe I use:

Eggless Frech Toast

2 cups of milk
4-5 Tablespoons of flour
1-2 Tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-2 teaspoons of maple flavoring (optional)

Cook on lightly oiled griddle until golden.

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Yum!  Freeze leftovers for those mornings when you need a quick breakfast.

What do you like to do to plan ahead for those mornings when you need to have a quick breakfast?

NO-KNEAD, CRUSTY BREAD

First, gather your very frugal, cheap ingredients.

Flour, water, kosher salt, yeast.Image

And speaking of frugal, see this…..

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NOT FRUGAL–EXPENSIVE! ( Found at any grocery store. Approximately $1.39 for a  ¾ oz. packet = $1.85  per oz  which = $29.60 per pound!!!) I know, right?!  Crazy!

And this…….

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STILL TOO EXPENSIVE! (Again, found at most stores. $5.49 for this 4 oz jar = $1.37 per oz which = $21.92 per pound! A little better, but seriously?  Even the store brand in the jar is not a good bargain.

Now, see this……..

SUPER AWESOME FRUGAL DEAL!  (I got my 16 oz bag at Gordon Foods Service.  I paid $2.79 for this 1 pound  bag of yeast = approximately $0.17  per oz) YAY!!!Saf-Instant Yeast!

Okay, that was your lesson in price comparison shopping.  Let’s move on, shall we?

Grab a large bowl or a large container of some sort to mix your bread in.

Put 1 ½ cups of very warm water into your bowl or container.

Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of yeast over the water and give a gentle stir. I like to sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of sugar in with the yeast and water, but it’s not necessary. Let rest for about 5 minutes.The photo below is what it will look like if you sprinkle the sugar in.  Otherwise, it won’t be this frothy.

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Now, dump in 3 cups of flour, and 1 Tablespoon of Kosher salt. (I buy it at Kroger in box for just a couple bucks.  Found in the baking aisle with the regular table salt)

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Stir until everything is combined. NO KNEADING necessary.  Yippee!  Your dough will look wet and be a bit sticky.

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Now, cover the bowl lightly with some plastic wrap.  If you’re using a container with a lid, just lay the lid on top.  Don’t seal it.The dough needs to rise or rest for at least two hours.  I like to start mine in the morning and just leave it on the counter all day then bake it in the afternoon.  If you can’t bake your bread the day you mix it due to unforeseen circumstances that would keep you from this lovely deliciousness, then just pop it in the fridge and bake it tomorrow.

After a few hours it should look like this:

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Prepare to bake your bread!  If you have a stone put it in the middle rack of your oven and place a broiler pan on the rack underneath. You’ll be pouring 1 cup of water into broiler pan later. (No stone? No worries!  I will describe another way to bake your bread without a stone at the end of this tutorial.) Turn oven to 450* and allow stone and broiler pan to heat while you form and rest your dough.  And don’t worry, even if your oven isn’t as dirty as mine, I promise your bread will still turn out great!

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Now, if you have a pizza peel, great!  Dust it with cornmeal and it will be ready for you to place your shaped dough on it.  If not, use a cookie sheet that has no edges like the one in the picture below.  Or you can use a regular cookie sheet and turn it bottom up.  Put a piece of parchment big enough to place your shaped dough on.  It will expand some as it rises but not a lot. This is going to be our make-shift pizza peel. See? No edges.

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We interrupt our regularly scheduled tutorial to bring you another frugal tip.  The parchment paper in the picture above is called Quilon Coated Baking Sheets.  It is sold in sheets twice the size of the one pictured.  I cut my sheet in half for my bread dough.  You can read the particulars from the photo.  I buy this at Gordon Food Service and use it every time I bake cookies or breads.  The last time I purchased mine, I think it was $3.99 for 50 large sheets, which means I can bake 100 loaves of bread or 100 sheets of cookies. Yay for Quilon!

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Moving on…..transfer your dough to a floured surface.

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Sprinkle extra flour on top of dough.

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Pick up your lightly floured dough and turn it in a counter-clockwise direction in your hands as you gently pull down on the dough forming a round loaf.

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You can either bake it in this rounded shape, or you can gently form the dough to look like this:

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Transfer your dough to the pizza peel or cookie sheet and allow to rest for about 20-30 minutes.        Once the dough has rested, use a bread knife to cut a few shallow, diagonal slashes across top of loaf.  Sorry, I didn’t take a picture of this step because I forgot to do it.  No worries though.  Bread still comes out great.

Get  a measuring cup filled with 1 cup of water ready and set it by stove.

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Slide your bread off the peel or cookie sheet, along with parchment paper onto your preheated stone. (Directly onto stone if you are using a pizza peel dusted with cornmeal.)

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Pour water into broiler pan and shut oven door.

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Someday I will clean my oven…ooor noooot.

Bake for about 25 minutes or so.

This is what your bread will look like if you forget to slash the top.

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Clearly it is not as attractive as this:

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But it still tastes amazing!  We make this about 4 days a week.

It’s best if you can wait for the bread to cool before slicing.  If you try to slice it while it is still warm it mooshes the loaf and doesn’t look as attractive.  Of course, your tummy will never know the difference.  Mine doesn’t.

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Method #2:  Let’s say you don’t have a baking stone or you’re out of parchment paper, or maybe you don’t have a broiler pan and you don’t feel like messing with the whole water thing anyway, or perhaps you forgot to preheat the stone, well, here is another method.

Grease a casserole dish or dutch oven and let the dough rest in it for the 20-30 minutes.  You’d may want to lightly grease or spray the inside of the lid as well.  After you slash the top of the dough, put the lid on the casserole dish or dutch oven and pop it into your preheated oven.

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I’ve done this at 500* or at 450*.  Just watch your bread after 25 minutes and take it out when you think it is finished as the size of the casserole dish will make a difference in your baking time.  I’ve used the small round one pictured above and it increased my baking time because the loaf was much thicker (taller). Ohhh…I bet that one would make a great bread bowl.  Anyway………….

I hope you will try this bread. It really is easy once you’ve been through the steps.  A tutorial with pictures makes it seem long and complicated, but it truly is quite easy and best of all….cheap.

What is your favorite bread recipe?

No-Knead Crusty Bread

1 ½ Cups of very warm water

1 Tablespoon instant yeast

1 Tablespoon Kosher salt

3 Cups flour

Put 1 ½ cups of very warm water into a large bowl or container.

Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of yeast over the water and give a gentle stir.

Let rest for about 5 minutes.

Add 3 cups of flour, and 1 Tablespoon of Kosher salt.

Stir until everything is combined. NO KNEADING necessary.

Your dough will look wet and be a bit sticky.

Cover the bowl lightly with some plastic wrap and let rest for at least 2 hours.

Place baking stone on middle rack and a broiler pan on lower rack of oven and allow to heat at 450* while you form and rest your dough.

Transfer dough to floured surface and sprinkle top of dough with a little extra flour for easier handling.  Shape the dough into either a round or oblong loaf.  Place on pizza peel dusted with cornmeal or cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.  Let rest for 20-30 minutes.  With a serrated knife cut a few slashes across dough.

Slide dough off of pizza peel or cookie sheet along with the parchment paper onto the hot stone.

Pour 1 Cup of cold water into the broiler pan and close the oven door.  Bake approximately 25 minutes.

Cool and slice.

This recipe is adapted from the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day cookbook