February 5, 2016

How to Not Waste Tomato Paste (Without Buying it in a Tube)

can of tomato paste

Tomato paste is an essential part of my pantry storage. It gives great, concentrated tomato flavor to so many recipes, but only takes up only a little bit of space on the shelf. The down side of tomato paste, of course, is the waste. It’s only very rarely that I will use an entire six-ounce can of tomato paste in one recipe (mainly spaghetti sauce and big pots of chili).

January 22, 2016

Slow Cooker French Onion Soup

"Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of Beautiful Soup?
Pennyworth only of Beautiful Soup?"
-Lewis Carroll

A steamy bowl of soup for supper on a cold winter evening is truly a beautiful thing. When it's made in a slow cooker, with only minimal effort, it's even better. This time of year is the worst for me - the short, chilly days, and long, dark nights. Even in the deep south, we get more cold weather than suits my taste. Plus, let's be honest here, as much as I love the holidays, they can be exhausting. There is the cooking, the shopping, parties, visiting with family and friends. I'm really just now starting to recover. My energy is low and something easy, homey and comforting is exactly what I crave.

November 24, 2015

Chili Lime Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Chili Lime Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I always prepare a big, traditional Thanksgiving dinner every year, complete with all of the trimmings. As much as my family loves all of the usual fare, sometimes we enjoy a little freshness at our holiday table. These mashed sweet potatoes are a nice alternative to the typical super-sweet, marshmallow-laden casserole. They are just a little sweet, and a little spicy with just a hint of fresh lime. (I may even say they are a little bit...healthy.) Healthy or not, they are delicious and go great with a Thanksgiving turkey, or a Christmas ham (but are perfect for a an everyday lunch or dinner, too)!

October 19, 2015

The Easiest Slow Cooker Apple Butter Ever

Apple butter is one of my favorite treats for fall. I make a batch every year like clockwork, using my slow cooker to make it easy, and to avoid standing at the hot stove stirring for several hours. This year, however, I have found a way to make it even easier. This recipe still uses a slow cooker to do all of the work, just like my older Slow Cooker Apple Butter recipe. The difference in this recipe, however, is that instead of peeling and chopping all of the apples myself, I start with a big jar of prepared applesauce. I know, I know, it isn’t 100% from-scratch, and not peeling and chopping those apples somehow seems like a bit of a cheat, but trust me, this shortcut is downright practical when you are short on time or energy. 

October 8, 2015

Easy Beef and Macaroni Skillet

Beef and Macaroni Skillet Goulash

Earlier this week, on our first chilly fall afternoon of the season, I whipped-up this easy beef and macaroni skillet supper.  Not for the first time, I appreciated that this dish is almost magical, with the ability to transport me back to my childhood, and a far simpler time. Back then, we called it goulash (I know, it’s not authentic goulash), or on the days  it was served in our school cafeteria, we called it beef-a-roni. I loved this meal as a kid, but now as an adult, I still love this little one-pan recipe - it is so darn simple to prepare, but still just so comforting and delicious. OK, maybe this dish seems a little old-fashioned, but it can’t be beat on a crisp fall day, when you want to get a hot, comforting meal on the table fast.  

September 23, 2015

Egg Noodles from Scratch

I believe that homemade noodles are one of the ultimate frugal comfort foods. A bowl full of steamy chicken soup, piled high with noodles and carrots is my idea of hearth and home in a bowl. Make no mistake, however, these from-scratch egg noodles are heartier than the more delicate store-bought variety, and very, very filling. Growing up, we sometimes referred to these noodles as kluski, and they are honest to goodness, stick-to-your ribs comfort food.
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