Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Good morning out there in Internet land! How are you doing today? Me, well I have seen better days. But I am alive to breathe another day, so I’m always glad for that! Thanks to everyone for their comments yesterday. You are very sweet. I did some sewing and weird cooking last night that I will share with you in a few days LOL!

To my darling Hazel… for your potluck church function… do you want hot or cold, soup, salad, or entrée, etc.? Since starting this blog, I have spotlighted over 200 yummy recipes alone... plus count the millions you can find online LOL... I need a starting point darling! LOL! Now, if you want a soup… my mom would probably swear by the Chicken Tortilla soup I make her (she claims to like it better than restaurants LOL). My husband would say Refried Bean or Potato (for his non spicy faves), the DS18 picks Mulligatawny or butternut Squash, and the DD the Chicken Fried Steak Soup. LOL However, I would also say this vegetable with sausage one I just made the other day would be a fabulous pick too! If you want more of an entrée dish I recommend a casserole really. The Hurry Up Chicken Pot Pie, Mexican Shepherd’s Pie, or the Tuna Casserole are some main faves around here. Casseroles are easy one dish wonders that can wow a crowd. So think about what type of dish you want first and go from there.

Ok, its time for the frugal article of today. Actually its an older article I just stumbled upon this morning that I thought would be a good feature for the frugalness that earns my respected title LOL!

Top Tips for Feeding Your Family on a Budget

by Ruth Mantell
Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tough times call for tough meat.

Cuts such as brisket can be easy on a family's budget, and that's a boon during tight economic times.

"Forget filet mignon," said Bryan Voltaggio, chef of Volt in Frederick, Md., and a 'Top Chef' finalist. "Short ribs, shoulder cuts can be much more luscious and much more hearty for your family, and make a really great presentation."

Last week I bought a $25 brisket that, with a couple of potatoes, an onion and some spices, was enough for five generous portions. Preparation was easy and the meal required little attention during its three hours in the oven -- a couple of particularly attractive traits for a home cook with a 4-month-old baby and only two hands.

Tougher cuts that cook for a long time may also put fretful parents at ease about food-borne illness.

"Some parents will feel that the meat is safer to eat for their kids, as typically they are braises which will be cooked over long periods of time, versus a lean, tender cut which you would want to cook at a lesser temperature," Voltaggio said.

As families on a budget continue to feel financial stresses from the recession, here are some expert tips to help them eat healthy and delicious meals.

Buy in Bulk

Many parents are used to buying staples such as rice in bulk. But families with enough freezer space can also purchase proteins that way, Voltaggio said.

"Buying a side of cattle from a butcher, you buy it at a much cheaper per-pound rate," he said. "You can specify how you like it. It's a good way to stock up and buy at a comfortable price ahead of time. For a large family beef is a commodity."

City dwellers with slim refrigerators can split such a large purchase with another family. When my mother, Nancy Mantell, an economist, was feeding her growing young family, she and another mother bought a lamb to share every couple of months.

"We were young and didn't have that much money. It was cheaper to buy a whole lamb and have the butcher cut it for us rather than to buy it already cut at the grocery store," she said. "We didn't have a lot of freezer space, but we had enough for half a lamb."

Use Every Scrap

I roasted a chicken a few days ago, and plan to make a pot pie with the leftovers.

Using every bit of your proteins is a good way to keep down costs, said Alicia Horton, executive director of Thrive DC, a homeless services provider that feeds almost 200 people a day. Thrive DC's staff makes the most of the protein they have: "Not only stretching it, but also utilizing every scrap," Horton said. "We have two chefs on staff and they are magicians."

Acquiring enough protein for 200 people is always a challenge because it's the more expensive part of the meal, Horton said. Donors may give a ham, but they rarely donate 10 hams, she said. To make use of all the available protein, Thrive DC has a buffet each week.

"It's when we kind of clean house," Horton said. "Anything that was left over for the week, smaller portions that may not suffice for an entire meal, we just have a big buffet and everybody can have a bit of what's available."

Cook Like You're at Home

Pricey gadgets and exotic ingredients have a place, but it may not be your home.

Home cooks without loads of time and money may want to stick with straightforward family fare, said Art Smith, Oprah Winfrey's former personal chef and co-owner of Chicago's Table Fifty-Two, where the first couple celebrated Valentine's Day.

"Don't try to reproduce food from a restaurant," Smith said. "Restaurants have a lot of special equipment, and it's just not cost effective for a home cook."

Glamorous ingredients can be a waste for a home chef. For instance, Voltaggio recommended that home chefs avoid truffles "unless you have a really reputable supplier and you know when truffles are in season. It's a lot of money to invest in something like that and it's definitely a luxury."

Smith noted that many high-end ingredients are not necessarily healthy choices. "Foie gras tastes good, but it's deadly fattening," Smith said. "A little bit is good, but a little bit goes a long way."

Buy Local Produce, Shop Around

Chefs recommend local produce for home cooks. "You can go to a great local market where they have great apples as opposed to trying to seek out something that is not as local," Smith said.

Voltaggio said home cooks should take advantage of community-supported agriculture arrangements in which consumers buy seasonal produce directly from local farmers. Typically, a family buys a "share" of a CSA to receive weekly packages of seasonal goods.

"Some people look at CSAs as a luxury, but there's really great value," Voltaggio said. "Some farmers will overfill the baskets just because they have an abundance of crops."

CSA consumers are essentially buying vegetable futures, Voltaggio said.

"Versus buying in the store, CSAs are typically cheaper," Voltaggio said. "It's a win for the farmer because you are guaranteeing his income, which will keep local agriculture alive. This is a good way to keep your money in your community."

However, there are risks, such as inclement weather. Farmers can't guarantee that consumers get exactly what they want every season. Also, CSA shares are limited, and you might be put on a wait-list.

Also, Smith said home cooks should comparison shop rather than trying to buy all of their food at one location.

"Everyone when they shop wants convenience. You can get everything at one market but you are going to pay more for it," Smith said. "The only way you can ensure high quality at a better price is to shop around and be aware."

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Ok time to craft… now I just got started on some spiffy sewing last night. And one of the things I am building is a lotto ticket purse… you know me and my recycling! Other people’s trash is usually my treasure LOL. About a decade ago I was making purses and bags from Capri Sun pouches and candy bar wrappers and people thought they were so unique. NOW I see them in Wal-Mart! Man I should have patented that years ago! I would've been rich! Oh well... LMAO! So I have decided to move up in the world LOL! See, mom likes to play the scratch off lotto tickets. I normally don’t play, but recently I bought some. Then I decided to keep the non-winning tickets and now I am trying to fashion them into a purse. I've been collecting other non-winners from people too! I gotta be careful though… this will be a one shot wonder ya know? But until then, I found a great excuse for you to endulge in a little fruity goodness LOL!

Craft Idea of the Day: Starburst Wrapper Necklace


Wire or quilting thread (optional)
Necklace Clasps
110-130 starburst wrappers (depends on neck size)


First measure the size of your neck using the string/wire and cut it using wire cutters or scissors (you should add a couple inches just in case).

Next, fold each individual star burst wrapper into squares about the size of your pinky tip.

String each individual star burst wrapper until the thread/wire is generally full.

Tie the necklace clasps onto the wire. And that’s about it!

Ok now that you have a candy wrapper craft, eating all that candy must have made you hungry for some real food, huh? Well I decided to make this Pizza Week. Each Day from yesterday until Sunday, I will feature a delicious pizza recipe I think you would enjoy. Here is one veggie style. You could also melt some cheddar cheese on the top just before serving and send your taste buds to heaven! Or leave the cheese off for a truly chilled treat!

Cool Veggie Pizza

1 (10 ounce) can refrigerated crescent roll dough
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 cup shredded cheese (optional)
Finely diced zucchini, mushrooms, green peppers, green onions and tomatoes all work well as toppings


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a lightly greased 9x13 inch pan or 13 inch round pizza stone, arrange the crescent roll dough in a single layer. Pinch together the edges of the dough. Bake for 12 minutes, or until it becomes a golden brown crust.

Remove the crust from the oven and allow it to cool.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise and dill. Evenly spread the cream cheese mixture on the crust. Sprinkle toppings on top of the cream cheese spread. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the spread to thicken.

Cut the chilled pizza into wedges or squares with a pizza cutter to serve.

Alright everybody, I’ve enjoyed our morning together. Now it is time for me to get dressed and head out. I hope to see you again tomorrow for more fun and java jolted excitement! HUGS!


  1. Debbie "MOM"May 11, 2010 at 8:49 AM

    I have always been a mother in charge of a family on a budget. Its not hard when thats all you have to work with. I have a tip for everyone. All those nights when you have just a spoonful of veggies left whether it be canned or cooked fresh veggies and you cant bare to throw it away, I would put that spoonful of veggies into a dedicated soup fixings bowl that I kept in the freezer and in a couple of months I would make a pot of veggie beef or veggie chicken soup and that little bowl of extra veggies in my soup made it just that much more tasty. And most veggies work and stay whole if you make sure they are thawed before you put them in the soup recipe and only add them in at the end so they get warmed through (since they are already cooked). It is one of my favorite meals. But then I'm a soup fanatic....its the perfect food to me. My DH thinks SAUSAGE is the perfect food. OMG! Typical man and his meat!
    Its nice to know there are people out there who can appreciate frugality. Its the way I have always tried to live. We were always a one income family and had to be that way. Hope everyone has a great day and tries to do a random act of kindness, even if its
    just a smile at someone who might need it. Til next time.....

  2. Yum that pizza looks perfect for the potluck ,I think I will make it along with potato salad .
    I'm just getting into being frugal I make most of my cleaning products ,bake my own bread ,love my bread machines ,yes I have three ,2 of which was given to me .
    Just now I was reading about crochet your plastic bags to make different things ,one suggestion was place mats for outdoors .I'll have to look into that more .Thanks for all your tips Renee you brighten my morning .

  3. To Debbie- looks like your daughter carried on your ways into her adult life. Its a good thing she saw this early on!

    To Renee- That pizza looks great! How do you come up with the ideas on what you will feature on your blog everyday? I am so curious if you are naturally that creative? Maybe MOM can answer that?