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October 2012

September 2012

Dried Apricot Beet Salad W/ Orange Dressing

Ap beet sal 2

I have mentioned this before, I have a weekly get-together with a dear friend. We always eat something yummy but she cannot eat gluten or dairy. This has been a bit of a challenge for me. I cannot just bring a over loaf of bread with some good cheese. But it is good a good challenge for it has forced me to think even more out of the box. All summer I have been bring salads and this one was a winner. Actually this would be a wonderful winter salad (sooo keep that in mind). The dried apricots and orange zest vinaigrette really brighten up the roasted beets. I would say, this is a jewel of a salad!!

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Dried Apricot Beet Salad w/ Orange Vinaigrette

5 medium beets, roasted*

1/3 cup dried apricots, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup red onion, chopped into small pieces

orange vinaigrette**

Toss altogether and enjoy!!

*Roasting beets

Set 5 medium beets in a pan and add 1/4 cup water. Cover with a lid or foil tightly. Roast one hour in oven at 350˚F. Check to see if beets are done by piercing them with a sharp knife. If firm and cannot be pierced, cook another 20 minutes. When cool, pull or peel off skin and cube in bite size pieces.

** Orange vinaigrette

zest of one orange

juice of one orange

juice of 1/2 a small lemon

1/3 cup good olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 TBL honey

salt and pepper to taste


Mix altogether, taste and adjust to your liking.


Some Frugal Baking Tips

Armory kit

Welcome first day of fall and that means baking, well to me it does. My freezer is empty and needs to be refilled. Here are some frugal and helpful baking tips for me and you!!!

1: A tip for appliances storage that is out in the open, start using pillow cases to protect your appliances. I have a new kitchen cabinet that stores bigger appliances but it is open. I have all hardwood floors (plus I am terrible housekeeper  :-) and dust is a big issue in my house. So I started using old pillow cases to protect my appliances. It is easy to just slip the pillow case over an appliance. If the case is too big, just cut it down on two side and sew it back up to make a smaller bag. Works great!!!

2: When I am making things like cookies, muffins or mini cakes I count out the chocolate chips and add them to the top or middle. For example when I make chocolate chip cookies, I count out 4 chips (I used the bittersweet ones and they are bigger) and push them into the scoop of raw dough on the cookie sheet before baking them off. I find 1, I use less chocolate and 2, then everyone gets the same amount of chocolate. Which is really, really important. No cookies with a ton and some with almost nothing. This also works great with berries. I just made blueberry muffins this morning. I fill each cup half way, set in 5 frozen blueberries and finished filling the cups with more dough. Equal amounts, use less and no blueberry streaks. I call that a win/win!!

3: This is not a new idea (I have blogged about it numerous times) but I freeze unbaked items like muffins, small cakes, scones, biscuits, cookies, ect. When I want some I pull out exactly what I want (which is usually 1-2 per-person) and bake it off frozen. Frozen muffin fit right back in the tin and bake off just fine. It might take 2-5 minutes longer but not much. This way I always have on-hand items for busy days, fresh baked always taste better (as opposed to baked, than frozen, than defrosted) and I can control how much we eat. Because in my family, if I bake a whole batch of cookies we will eat them all :-o

4: I keep a big bag of yeast in the freezer. I have found it lasts me 2-3 years!!

5: Instead of keeping oat flour on-hand, I just keep oats (thick rolled is my fav.) on hand. I grind up oats in a food processor or blender. If it is a small amount I use my coffee grinder. Easy and one less thing to store.

6: Soaking and then drying dark, skinned nuts is healthier and makes for a better tasting nut. My husband hates walnuts, he finds them bitter but by soaking them and drying them in a dehydrator, he loves them! They also have this nice crispness about them. Here is a video about why soaking brown skinned nuts makes them healthier.

7: I find unsalted, sweet butter can be less expensive than salted butter and it is better for cooking. I buy butter in large quantities (like Costco), cut it up into 1/2 cup pieces myself, wrap it in freezer paper and then keep that in a freezer baggie in the freezer. I still buy salted butter but we only use that for eating.

8: Lastly vanilla bean paste. It is my new best friend!!! How did I not know about this? I was at T J Max and saw some in the food section. I thought it would be a think paste but it is not, more like a glycerin gel with vanilla (seeds and all). It has an intense, lovely flavor and a little goes a long way. I just use the tip of a knife to scoop of a small bit. So this means it is also a frugal choice. I will get dozens of uses out of this small jar. Just think how many vanilla beans that would be and how much that would cost. I paid half price too because I got it at a discount store. So check those food isles!!!

PS. if you are new to my blog. I have more posts on frugal baking and cooking. You can read them here.

Cabinet Makeover

Cab makover1

Hello, I have to share my cabinet makeover with all of you. It is amazing what a coat of white paint can do. My kitchen counters were feeling cluttered and I decided to look for a cabinet to hold my larger appliances, like my food-saver, jelly roll pans and vita-mix.


It pays to always shop in ones own home, this green cabinet was in the upstairs bathroom. It was full of books. David added some tall wooden legs. I painted over the green with cream. A paint tip, I did not need much and the paint store had leftover samples. It cost me $1.25 for paint.

Cab make2

David installed a steal rod by drilling a hole on each side a bit deeper than the rod. I used the ring clips (but not the ring part) to hold the curtain, which is just a small square table cloth I was not using.You will be horrified but the cloth was brightly embroidery. I painstakingly took out all the embroidery that someone had painstakingly embroidered :-o  And I felt guilty the whole time but I have to say I am thrilled with the results!!!

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Pistachio Blueberry Cheesecake Pie

P blupie

Pistachio blueberry cheesecake pie, my that is quite a mouth full! I know cheesecake and pie, sounds weird but it is really not a cheesecake more of a cheesecake tasting filling, minus the eggs. I have to say this is a yummy combo and one my family really loved. You could assemble this in the morning, keep it in the fridge and bake it off before dinner. Also you could use a lot of filling like I did or half the cream cheese part and more berries. Really it is up to what you like!!!


Ps blpie

Pistachio Blueberry Cheesecake Pie

Cream cheese filling*

2-3 three cups fresh blueberries, depending on what you like. You can also use frozen berries but do not defrost them.

1/2 cup corsely chopped pistachios. You can use raw or toasted, salted nuts.

1 pie crust


Pre-heat oven 350

Lay pie crust on parchment paper. Spoon filling into the center of the crust. Leave a good three inches of crust bare to fold over (look at first picture). Top with berries and then pistachios. Gently fold side up and over the edge of the filling. Bake 35-45 minutes. Until your crust is cooked and browned. 


*Cheesecake Filling

8 oz of cream cheese at room temp

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla

pinch of salt

1/3 cup sugar

grated lemon peel (optional)


Put all in electric mixing bowl. Cream all together. If you want a pie with just a little cream filling make half the recipe. Really how much filling and fruit you use is up to personal taste and it does not change the amount of time you bake it. By the time your crust is cooked your filling will be too.

Raspberry Lacto-Fermented Green Beans

Lac rasp 3

I have to share my new favorite food, lacto-fermented veggie!! I tell you these are addictive. And healthy, as Sally Fallon says in her book Nourshing Tradtitions

"The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anti carcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine."

So what is lacto-fermanted veggies? Lacto-fermentation happens when the starches and sugars in vegetables and fruit convert to lactic acid by a friendly lactic-acid producing bacteria. I have found this method of preserving really easy to do.

The other reason I love this method of preserving (besides the fact that it is easy) is my family hates canned or pickled veggies and fruit. I do some freezing but my freezer is only so big. Drying works for certain things but really this is the best way I have found to preserve vegetables that my family loves.

My friend Angie is the one who turned me onto this. I was already making water-keifer (which I also LOVE), she shared this Lacto-Fermentation video with me. It is worth checking out if you are interested in using this method. I do, do two things different than him. I use a ratio of 1 TBL salt/2 cups water. Also while lacto-fermenting I keep a small baggie with water on top of the veggies. This hold down the veggies but lets bubbles escape. Just make sure the baggie fills in the top of the jar. I had to keep adding water and taking out until I figured out how much water to use. Always make sure your veggies are covered in the brine.  There is much more info out there (I am not an expert on this subject.) But check out Jenny McGruther's webinar she knows what she is talkng about and adress safety!!


Lac rasp

Raspberry Lacto-Fermented Green Beans

10 garlic cloves

1 cup raspberries

green beans, I did not measure but I used about 4 cups


Take a clean, sterilized jar and fill with veggies. Leave a good one inch head space at the top. Cover with brine. Make sure all vegtables are covered in brine. Take a small (or large if using a large jar) zip-lock baggie and fill with some water and set on top of veggies. Baggie should fill in the whole opening. Set you jar aside somewhere, where you can keep an eye in it. You will sett little bubbles and in two-three days the brine should start to look cloudy. Feel free to taste and see how it is tasting. After anywhere from 4-7 days the veggies will be ready. You will find all the red is leached out the the raspberries and into the brine. Keep in fridge for up to 6 months. Metal should never touch the lacto veggies, so I set a piece of wax paper over the jar and then screw on the lid.



Fill container you are using with water. Measure that amount. Use 1 TBL salt for every two cups of water. Gently simmer water in a pan until salt melts. Set brine aside and let cool.

Alice In Wonderland

Chloe alice 1

I wanted to share this wonderful Alice in Wonderland necklace I won from a my dear friend Theresa. I have been watching her talent grow and grow over the years, so I was thrilled to win one of her latest creations.

Cl alice

I have to say her Theresa's was perfect because my necklace arrived three days before an Alice in Wonderland party Chloe was invited to. What timing!! As you can see Chloe had fun dressing up as Alice. Isn't she adorable?

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Thank you so much Theresa for the necklace and bookmark too. Please check out Faerie Moon Creation. Her storybook characters are delightful!!!