October 19, 2016

Simple DIY Yogurt

Easy DIY Homemade Yogurt

A big jar of homemade yogurt is something I always like to keep on-hand in the fridge. It not only makes great snacks and breakfast smoothies, but is versatile for lots of other cooking and baking purposes, too. It can be used to make baked goods a little lighter, and also as a lower-fat substitute for mayo and sour cream in certain recipes. (Let’s not forget, too, that yogurt can be chock-full of those healthy bacteria known as probiotics.)

September 20, 2016

Easy Beer Bread

Easy Beer Bread Recipe
”If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
 – Thorin Oakenshield, The Hobbit

Beer bread is seriously delicious and so easy to make. It has a crispy, buttery crust with a soft, tender inside, and it takes only 5 minutes or less to prepare the batter. And while the recipe calls for only a few, simple ingredients, you can easily dress it up - I often add some grated sharp cheddar to the batter, or some dehydrated onions, dill or caraway seeds. If you use a small Dutch oven or a cast iron bread pan to bake this bread, all the better for getting a really crispy crust (although any bread pan will work just fine). My family’s favorite way to enjoy beer bread is served with a big pat of butter, alongside a hearty stew or chili.

September 12, 2016

Turkey Chili Soup with Garden Vegetables

Turkey Chili Soup with Garden Vegetables

I’m very big on any kind of soup, stew or chili, especially in the fall. Nothing says home and hearth to me more than a big, steamy pot of goodness. Rich broth and slow-cooked vegetables are comfort in a bowl, and perfect to warm you right up on a cool autumn day. 

September 1, 2016

Classic Sloppy Joe's

Classic Sloppy Joe's Sandwich

A simple combination of ground meat, tomato sauce or ketchup, and some seasonings, this sandwich is a classic that may just remind you of childhood (and for good reason - it seems like almost all kids love it). The Sloppy Joe’s sandwich is also perfect for back-to-school season because it is just so quick and easy to prepare after a long day at work or school, and is also so warm and cozy for the cooler weather.

April 10, 2016

My Simple Method for Cooking Beans from Scratch

Easy Method for Preparing Dried Beans from Scratch

I just love beans, I really do. They are a good source of plant-based protein, with the added bonuses of being tasty and economical. While I always keep beans on hand in my pantry in both canned and dried versions, my favorite approach to cooking with beans is to cook dried beans in big batches, then store them in smaller, convenient portions in my freezer.  I find this to be a cheap and easy way to have quick access to beans for use in soups, stews, chili, side dishes, salads, and for stretching out the ground meat in recipes.

February 22, 2016

Cuban-Style Picadillo

Easy Cuban Picadillo (Ground Beef Stew)

I find that ground beef recipes are always real time-savers in the kitchen, and frequently turn to them when I need to get something on the table fast. And while ground beef isn't super-cheap the way it has been in days gone by (and this is probably a good thing), when you make it casserole-style, or serve it with a pile of rice and vegetables, it can still be a frugal meal. Ground beef recipes tend to be flexible, too, so if beef isn't your thing, or you don't have any on-hand, you can always substitute another ground meat, like turkey or lamb. You can often even make a decent vegetarian meal from a ground beef recipe by substituting cooked lentils, or other meat substitute. 

February 5, 2016

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

How to not waste an open 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.
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