December 23, 2014

Pecan Tassies

This is going to be a short post, because Christmas is nearly here, and I still have so much cooking and preparing to do! I wanted to share a recipe for a little nibble that is perfect for holiday entertaining. It’s an easy recipe that comes together fairly quickly, so you can make these pretty close to the last minute.

December 18, 2014

The Hard Times Kitchen Cookbook is On Sale

The Hard Times Kitchen Cookbook for the Kindle is on sale for $.99 right now! The Amazon Countdown Deal ends on December 24th, so make sure you get a copy before then. The book is full of homestyle, budget-friendly recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These are some of my favorite recipes that haven't been published before on my blog. Click on the image to go to the Amazon website, or go here: The Hard Times Kitchen: Homestyle Recipes for a Small Budget

I hope you enjoy!

 The Hard Times Kitchen Cookbook

December 16, 2014

Homemade Potato Cheese Pierogi

These delicious little, fluffy pillows of potatoes and cheese, are wrapped in a tender dough and fried with onions in butter, until golden brown. They are scratch comfort-cooking at its finest. For most of my life, I ate the frozen pierogi from the box, and never really gave it a second thought. I mean, let’s face it, the frozen ones are actually pretty decent. When I married my husband, though, the boxed, pre-made pierogi became a thing of the past for me. My husband is 100% Polish, and I don’t think he knowingly ever ate a store-bought pierogi in his life (and he wasn’t about to start.)

December 8, 2014

Kitchen Sink Cabbage and Vegetable Soup

Cabbage and Vegetable Soup

I've heard a rumor that some people don't adore the humble cabbage the way that I do, but I have a hard time believing it. So maybe it is not the most fragrant of vegetables while it's cooking, but the end result is magnificent - delicious, sweet and mellow. Take some of those crunchy cabbage leaves, cook them slowly until tender, and you will end up with some serious comfort food. Let's not forget, too, that cabbage is in season right now, and is a real bargain at the market.

December 2, 2014

Moroccan Chicken and Lemon Herb Couscous

Moroccan Chicken and Lemon Herb Couscous

I had a lovely, but quiet Thanksgiving dinner with my family this year (just 3 of us this time). Small though it was, we had turkey and all the trimmings – candied sweet potatoes, creamy mashed potatoes, a super-rich homemade green bean casserole, loads of fluffy stuffing, and everything topped with a boatload of gravy. Yum! It was an excellent meal on Thanksgiving Day, and delicious for a second round Thanksgiving evening. 

November 23, 2014

Cuban-Style Mojo Marinade

Since Florida navel oranges are currently in season, I decided I would share a recipe for one of my favorite marinades. This recipe comes from my years spent living in South Florida - the place where my husband grew up, and his family still resides. It's the land of sun, sand, surf and palm trees swaying in the breeze.

November 5, 2014

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Apple butter is one of the best things that you can make with apples. It's sweet and a little spicy, with an intense apple flavor. I love it on toast, and also in recipes (bbq sauce and apple stack cake recipes coming soon).To me, fall is not complete without making a batch of apple butter - enough for a jar for the fridge, and a few jars for the pantry. 

October 29, 2014

Turkey and Black Bean Taco Bowls

Turkey and Black Bean Taco Bowls

These hearty taco bowls use one of my favorite old-time money-saving tricks: stretching the ground meat. This is something that grandmothers did regularly back in the day, often adding a little bit of bread crumbs, or some oats to make the meat go a little further. Think of all of the meatloaves, casseroles and stews that came out of the necessity to make the meat stretch a little farther.

October 24, 2014

Spicy Sweet Roasted Acorn Squash

Spicy Sweet Roasted Acorn Squash

Ahh, a fall Friday evening. What a relief. The weather is finally cooling down after a long, hot summer, and the weekend is finally here after a long, trying week.

Some days, I crave something warm and nourishing, but there just isn't much energy to spare for cooking a meal. The family is waiting to eat, but I am drained. Normally, I am generous with my cooking, but today I am grumpy, and start mumbling something to myself about how I just fed everyone yesterday. This is just how I felt today. I needed to make something cozy and comforting, but also super-easy. Luckily, I had some leftover grilled chicken, but still needed something to go with it. Spicy Sweet Roasted Acorn Squash was my answer.

October 21, 2014

Cranberry Apple Strudel

Cranberry Apple Strudel

Did you know that you don't need to use store-bought phyllo dough to make apple strudel? It's true! Authentic Viennese strudel uses a simple dough that you can easily make at home, with ingredients you probably already have in the pantry. Let me just say that, with few exceptions, it it makes me very happy to avoid making a special trip to the store to spend extra money on a "convenience" item.

October 15, 2014

Pear Chutney with Cranberries

Pear Chutney with Cranberries

Pears are the forgotten fruit of fall. This time of year, we see big piles of apples at every supermarket, and they turn up in so many of our favorite dishes - apple butter, apple strudel, caramel apples, candy apples, etc., etc. But what about that other fall fruit, the pear? They are equally as delicious as apples, and pricewise, they are often downright cheap this time of year. Today I found them for $.65 a pound at my local market! Naturally, I picked up several pounds (3 pounds, to be exact), because they are good in so many recipes, as well as just on their own as a snack. 

October 13, 2014

Mushroom and Leek Lasagna

Mushrooms and Leeks

"Wild is the music of autumnal winds
Amongst the faded woods."
~William Wordsworth

Mushrooms and leeks are essential, but often overlooked, fall flavors. There is something about mushrooms, with their woodsy, earthiness that just seems to taste like fall. To be clear, I’m not talking about the bright, cheerful aspect of fall in all of its orange and gold flamboyancy. For me, mushrooms make me think of something more dark, mysterious and wild, like a fall day in a dark forest.

October 8, 2014

Kielbasa, Kale and Potato Skillet

Kielbasa, Kale, Potato Skillet

Kielbasa has always been a favorite around our house. My husband is of Polish heritage, so he is a fan. Although I am not Polish, I was raised in an area of Western Pennsylvania that has a huge Eastern European population, and kielbasa (or kolbassy as I knew it as a kid) was common fare. These days, it is easily found at any market, and makes for a quick, affordable meal. Although we often have it paired with some type of cabbage and/or noodles, tonight I decided to change it up a bit and pair it with some kale and potatoes for an easy fall supper.

October 2, 2014

Sweet Potato Chicken Chili

I am a serious chili fanatic. Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall - the time is always right for chili. I am not a purist, however, because I do like to change-up my ingredients and play with seasonal flavors. This chili uses one of my favorite fall ingredients - sweet potatoes. I know that sweet potatoes are available year-round, but they are harvested and cured in the fall, and their sweet taste and orange color are just right for a hearty bowl of chili on an autumn evening.

September 29, 2014

Pumpkin Gobs (aka Whoopie Pies)

A Fall chill is in the air, and it's time for our favorite, comforting fall flavors. For a couple of days now, I've been contemplating baking up this sweet treat from my childhood. When I woke up this morning, the urge was overwhelming - I just knew that it was time to make Pumpkin Gobs.

September 26, 2014

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

Sometimes here at our house, we just crave a midnight snack. Last night it was pizza. My favorite homemade pizza baked in a cast iron skillet, to be exact. I love it because I can whip up an easy crust, top it with some leftovers from my fridge, and have a hot, crispy (yet chewy) pizza in no time. No pizza stone or pizza peel needed. 

September 22, 2014

Preserving the Harvest with Dehydrating

Preserve the Harvest with a Dehydrator

I think that one of the most important rituals of the late Summer/early Fall is the preserving of the harvest in preparation for the dark, cold months ahead. Our ancestors relied on this to survive and, although preserving food seems so unnecessary in modern life, it can be a great money saver. It seems silly to waste fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables if, with just a little effort, you can preserve them and use them later.
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