Vegetable-Banana Smoothie

Another leftovers type of smoothie for you to try. A lot of times I just use whatever I have on hand. Add more milk if it isn’t smooth enough. Smoothie recipes pack quite the nutritional punch at snack time, or with your breakfast.

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (may need more)

1 egg

small handful of greens – kale, chard, or spinach

a few pieces of broccoli

10 baby carrots

3 chunks watermelon

1 small banana

  • Place everything into a blender.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Add a little more almond milk if needed.
  • Blend again.
  • Pour into a tall glass.
  • Add a straw.
  • Enjoy!

Tips

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with homemade Paleo granola cereal at breakfast.

Happy Days!

Shannon

 

Shrimp Scampi Salad

Salads are common fare during the spring and summer months, as we try to eat lighter after a winter of hearty meals. Experimenting with different combinations of foods keeps our meals new and exciting. I don’t know about you, but I get so bored with food after a while I need to break out and try something different or I wont feel like eating at all.

This recipe is super-easy, and is so good. I use the same recipe for shrimp scampi that I used to make Lettuce Wraps: Shrimp Scampi & Veggies. As a matter-of-fact, I used leftover shrimp from the scampi made for that meal with no loss of flavor.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuck

What a beautiful salad! How about making one for yourself.

Ingredients

about a dozen shrimp from the scampi recipe (I used the one from Paleoplan.com) (Hot or cold. does not matter.)

2 romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed, patted dry, and shredded

a little cabbage, shredded

3 slices cucumber, cut in fourths

3 slices zucchini, cut in fourths

7 or 8 sugar snap or snow pod peas

4 baby carrots, diced

  1. Layer the vegetables on your plate, however you like.
  2. Top with the shrimp scampi and a little of the sauce from the pan.
  3. Enjoy!

I try to use mainly organic vegetables when possible, though sometimes cost trumps everything.

This is a good-size salad, so I count it as a main meal.

Tips

  • Use whatever vegetables you can get affordably to save money.
  • Try different types of seafood.

Serving Suggestions

What are your favorite salad recipes?

Shannon

 

The Art of Soup Creation

Soups are so easy to make! They are healthy, and you can add just about anything to them. Experiment to see what your favorites will be.

A big pot is best, so you can have plenty of leftovers. Covered and placed in the fridge it’ll last a good 4 or 5 days, and you can freeze some of the soup as well.

I use leftovers first when making a soup, then add to the pot if the need be. If the leftovers are frozen, they don’t really need to be thawed. This process will happen just fine during the cooking period, so no worries.

Here is the basic process of making a soup:

  • Go through the refrigerator to see what needs to be used up, leftovers or not. I’m usually looking for meats, broth, stock, and vegetables.
  • Go through your freezer. Again, leftover meats and vegetables that have already been chopped and cooked, as well as stock or broth if you didn’t have any (or enough!) in the refrigerator.
  • If it looks like there will still be room in the pot, look in your pantry or food cupboards. Is there anything you’d like to add to the soup?
  • Start by placing the pot on a big burner, and pouring in about an inch of broth or stock. Turn the heat on high, and allow to warm.
  • Add any frozen foods when the stock or broth is warm, then chop fresh vegetables and add to the pot.
  • Brown any meat you want to add, unless it was already cooked. If pre-cooked, just add it straight to the pot.
  • Add any other leftovers from the refrigerator.
  • Add more stock or broth if necessary, to cover the food.
  • Once the liquid is boiling, turn the heat to medium-high and continue to cook. Most of the foods will probably be warmed through by now. If not, no worries. Continue cooking. The longer you cook, the more the foods flavors will mingle.
  • About 30 minutes before you’re done cooking the soup, add any canned foods you want to use.
  • Add and any herbs you like 10 minutes later.
  • Cook for 20 minutes and you are done.

There are so many combinations of ingredients that will work. Try using different ones each time you make the soup, mix things up a bit, writing a new recipe out each time.

Try this simple combination for a small pot of soup, following the steps above:

chicken stock

diced carrot

sugar snap peas in pods

chicken or turkey

parsley

Tips

Serving Suggestions

  • An excellent way to add more nutrients to a meal is to serve a side salad. Try a fruit salad with this soup.

Happy cooking!

Shannon

Successful Harvests

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015My parents had a successful harvest this year, and they always seem to plant enough to share with my siblings and me. It started with the cucumbers that mom brought over, a couple of times. Once, because she knew I was visiting with my daughter, she sent some for me to take to her. There was zucchini and kohlrabi as well. Then tomatoes. Huge beefsteak tomatoes. And kale. All this food, tasting so much better than what I would have bought in the store. Delicious!

I gave a few cucumbers, zucchini, and a squash to friends as well. Everyone loves the fresh produce!

I went to help my mother with the harvest one day. We got all the squash in, and the tomatoes (sadly, most were lost to blight!), the last of the kohlrabi, and a few plants for me to bring home.

And chives. When the girls and I lived in the apartments, back when they were still my precious little girls <3, there were chives growing in our little garden from the previous tenant. When I moved us to the trailer park, I brought them with me and replanted near the Day Lilies. They thrived. I gave some to my mother, and missed them when I moved again – for I can’t have a garden where I am. I harvested a bunch when I was visiting with my mother that day, brought them home, and froze them in water making ice cubes for soups and other recipes I’ll make this fall.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015After this all-important harvest, for we did not want the frost to harm the produce, mom sent me home with quite a bit of stuff. Two beefsteak tomatoes, a couple of bunches of celery, two kohlrabi, two more zucchini, chives, and two of each type of squash.

In the front, notice the mini squashes. They aren’t good to eat, but are perfect for autumn decorating. And notice the four potted plants. Two chard and two kale. We harvested all this, and much more, on September 23rd – the Autumn Equinox – and these four plants are still growing in my room. They are so good!

The food in this picture is quite the harvest for a single lady such as myself; imagine what else my parents harvested! For themselves, and for my siblings. And we all share with others, at least somewhat. Plus what they gave me before our harvest day.

And just yesterday my mother and brother stopped by, bringing me two more of each type of squash and some carrots. I do so love carrots, and I have experimented with stuffed squash recipes this year.

All-in-all, I would say my parents had quite the successful harvest this year. What do you think?

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015All I have left are the frozen chives, the four plants, six squash, and the carrots. The food was delicious, and I loved every bit of it. Harvest time is my favorite time! And it is a great money saver for me.

Did you grow food this year to help lower your food budget? How was your harvest? Did you enjoy the experience?

Let us know in the comments, or email me privately at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I answer all emails.

Some of what I made with the harvested produce:

Harvest Salad

Four Meat Chili with Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash and Carrot Mash

You May Also Enjoy:Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015

September Baking Day

Have a wonderful autumn!!!

Shannon

Simple Chicken Soup + Vegetables

My Nan used to make chicken soup however you wanted it. She knew each person liked specific things, and would make the soup to suit us when we were sick. There are so many ways to make chicken soup, anyone can have a version they like.

I like mine made different ways, depending on the day, my mood, and what I have on hand.

If you made the Simple Chicken Soup, use some of the leftovers to make this one.

Ingredients

Simple Chicken Soup

1 small carrot

6-10 sugar snap peas in pods

  1. Pour some of the Simple Chicken Soup into a saucepan. Heat on medium.
  2. Chop a small carrot, and cut the pea pods into halves or thirds.
  3. Add the vegetables to the pot and cook until food is heated through. (I like my vegetables on the crispier side, so I do not cook this very long.)

Tips

  1. Use vegetables that were not needed from other meals to save money.
  2. Try different vegetables, according to what you have on hand. This will also save money.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with a side salad of greens.
  • Serve with a side of apple slices.

Enjoy!

Shannon

 

Don’t Like Vegetables?

Vegetables are such an important part of a healthy diet. They are essential and provide the body with, among other things, vitamins and provitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy carbohydrates.

I used to think I only liked a few: Corn, peas, white potatoes. Raw carrots, celery, and cauliflower. For the most part, that was what I ate for vegetables. Let’s face it, not all of it was truly even healthy.

Truth?

I just don’t like a lot of things cooked.

Yup. I prefer most of my vegetables raw. I kept trying all these cooked vegetables, and was not impressed. Cooking changes the taste too much for me. It took me years to realize that I just prefer to consume a lot of things without them being cooked.

For instance?

Carrots, broccoli, pickled beets.

There are others.

How did I find this out?

In an effort to eat healthier, I decided I must start trying new foods. This took place about five or six years back and, each year, I try a few new things. It’s not always easy, but it’s working well for me.

I have learned:

  • I do not like many things cooked, but will eat them raw.
  • If you mix half white potato and half sweet potato you will get used to the latter two more easily. Then start using 1/3 white to 2/3 sweet. Eventually, that sweet potato will taste fine on its own. I do eat them cooked, and will also eat white potatoes raw. I do not, however, indulge in white potatoes all that often any more. Mainly when I’m very strapped for cash.
  • I don’t liked cooked carrots, unless I make a mash of them with white or sweet potato, or squash. The tactic above has not brought me any closer to liking cooked carrots on their own.
  • Raw baby spinach tastes wonderful. I despise canned spinach, and have not tried fresh cooked (yet).
  • I love tomatoes, cooked or raw, but they do not love me. Sadly, I can only consume a little each week, or I end up with horrible heartburn. Cooked, they mess with my stomach.
  • Raw peas and green beans in pods are delicious!
  • I like salad mixes. The kind that include chard and kale, even. If I don’t care for a green or two, I know I can add it to a healthy smoothie to derive nutritional value from it. Interestingly enough, if I don’t pack in too much, I will not notice the greens in a smoothie at all.
  • Beans are good, and not just the navy ones! However, I only really eat these once in a great while. Maybe two or three times a year. They are a bit of a no-no.
  • I used to only eat iceberg lettuce, but now I eat a variety of different types. They are delicious!
  • Sometimes it will take a few, or a few more, tries of something to realize you do really like it. If you aren’t sure how you feel about it, try it another way. I have to do this with Brussels sprouts. I have had them once. Steamed, I think, with butter. They did not work for me, but were not horrible tasting. Just not real pleasing. I’ll be trying them another way.
  • I love cabbage raw. Hate it cooked. This is why I don’t like boiled dinners.
  • I do like zucchini and yellow squash, raw.
  • I love celery raw.
  • Cucumbers are delicious, and I like them pickled.

So, I have learned a lot. And there are still vegetables I have yet to try.

What about you? How do you like your vegetables?

Shannon

 

Even More Workweek Meal Prep, Plus

Autumn is the time of year I start to cook and bake more. Makes life feel more homey 🙂 And I love the way it makes my place smell. This was the time, when my daughters were young, that we would stock up on foods so we could make what we wanted on a whim. I started having them cook with me from a young age.

Just this week Zowie, now 22, mentioned she was shopping to begin stocking her pantry. And Skye, 24, and I are planning to bake together when I visit her in a couple of weeks up north. Preparing delicious meals brings back warm family memories.

I messaged both of my daughters last night to find out what recipes from childhood were their favorites. My plan is to scrap a cookbook with our favorites. So far, I know my mac and cheese recipe will be in the book, as well as the chunky applesauce, mashed potatoes, and shepherds pie. There will be plenty more recipes going into that book! Something to work on during the winter months.

Today went like this:

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.I love slow cooker meals. Renting a room, I don’t have an oven for roasting big meals. Just a little toaster oven. Two slow cookers aid me in making a couple of meals on autumn and winter cooking days.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014Pork and vegetables went into the first crock. This is an easy recipe. I didn’t bother to cut the meat, because the meal cooks long enough so the meat falls apart easily. This made 5 meals, with the carrots coming from my parents garden.

The next crock contained beef I found on sale for $4.87, a savings of $1.88. It was steak and not a roast, but the result was delicious. This also made 5 meals. Both the squash and carrots were free, from my parents garden. Cook this the same as the pork and vegetables above.

1 pound beef

1 squash

5 or 6 small carrots

leftover sweet potato from the crock pot pork meal (bout 6 bite size pieces)

cover with water, or vegetable/beef stock

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.I decided to make cupcakes for my coworkers. They were such a big hit. The chocolate mayonnaise cake recipe I used came from my mom. It makes 18 cupcakes. I had leftover ingredients from the last time I baked, so I only needed to buy mayonnaise for this dessert. I used the cheapest brand and the smallest size I could find. Thankfully Jose, the head maintenance man at work, agreed to take the leftover mayo off my hands.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.Because I am a messy cook, the cooking spoon and measuring cup (for scooping batter) go on a napkin. Believe me, it is better this way.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

I have a 6-cup muffin tin that thankfully fits in my toaster oven, and I only needed to use the oven three times. Not bad.

While things were cooking and baking, I took inventory of what I had on hand to round out these 10 meal. There was plenty of celery and pickled beets.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.And a few lovely apples leftover from last weekends visit to the orchard. Liberty and Macintosh. Yum. These were free.

I checked the first tin of cupcakes by sticking a toothpick into them. If the pick comes out clean, they are done. I bought these at Wal-Mart, a three pack. Each box is a different color. Nifty.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.They were done. I allowed them to cool a bit before removing the cupcakes, then filled refilled.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.The peanut butter frosting recipe is so easy to make. You can’t go wrong with it. Simply mix a container of white frosting with peanut butter to taste. I used a little extra peanut butter this time and it was a hit. Everyone loves this frosting. Because I don’t really eat peanut butter, Jose agreed to take what was leftover off my hands.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.I saved out two cupcakes for a coworker with diabetes. She doesn’t eat frosting. And the maintenance guys both got two because they give me rides home from work a couple of times a week. I kept two cupcakes for myself, and shared the rest at work. I have to admit, my mommas recipe is the best!

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

Once the beef meal was portioned out, and one of the pork meals, I still had this much of the pork recipe but no more containers. I’ll need to invest in more containers. What’s left is enough for four more meals.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.And this is what six meals looks like. I only need five for work, the other half will make great at-home dinners that I can just warm up. Three apples and a jar of pickled beets really did round out the meals. And so did the celery packs. There were 6 packs. One was leftover from last week. They come in a 5-pack, and cost $1.15.

Have a great day!

Shannon

Crock Pot Meal: Pork and Vegetables

Have I mentioned that I love to cook? I look forward to having a day off from work because I know I’ll be making good food to have during the busy week ahead. This recipe was made a couple of weeks back, and came out tasting delicious.

The carrots were free, from my parents garden. I rarely eat pork, but decided to that week.

Pork and Vegetables

(Made 5 lunch meals for me)

2 large sweet potatoes
5 or 6 small carrots
1 lb boneless pork chops

water or vegetable stock

  1. Wash the vegetables; pat them dry with a clean towel.
  2. Peel the sweet potato and take the end off the carrots.
  3. Cut the vegetables into bite size pieces, placing the pieces into the crock.
  4. Place the pork over the vegetables. No need to cut the pork, as it will cook long enough for it to pull apart easily.
  5. Pour water or vegetable stock over the ingredients, and cook on high 3 to 4 hours or low 6 to 7 hours.

Tips

  • Try different vegetables, such as Idaho potatoes, carrots, and squash.
  • Grow what vegetables you can to save money.
  • To save even more, buy meat when there is a sale.

Serving Suggestion

  • Serve with a side salad of greens.

Enjoy!

Shannon

Meal Prep for the Coming Workweek

Another workweek. Another food prep day. Do I mind spending an entire day each week cooking? Absolutely not! I love to cook. And I have less to do on a day-to-day basis when I do this.

This week was pretty basic, and not overly expensive. Here goes:

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

I started with a slow cooker meal. This week I made an Autumn Sausage Slow Cooker Meal that came out real well. I love slow cooker meals. They’re so easy to put together, and free up plenty of time for preparing other foods and getting my cleaning done. Then I also have time for writing. The squash I used in this recipe was a freebie from my parents garden. And the cost before taxes for the sausage was $3.75. Take a look at the store’s selection. You may find a more affordable sausage option than what you use already. I did.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

I then made the base for my iced tea for the week, Berry-Orange Iced Tea. In a few days I will change the tea bags and replace the old orange slices with new. I just keep refilling the pitcher with water during the week. The tea bags were left over from last winter. The fruit was left over from last week. So I did not pay any more to make this.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

Next I made more Chunky Applesauce. This is such a simple recipe. I cook the apples down in water. I don’t add anything else when cooking. When I’m ready to eat the sauce, I add some organic cinnamon. Organic tastes so much better than the stuff I used to buy. The apples were also leftover from last week, so this is essentially another freebie.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

And I put together 6 Vegetable Jars. This weeks jars consist of carrots, celery, broccoli, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and a bit of cheese. The carrots were left over from last week. As was the slice of cheese that I broke into 6 pieces.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

Plus I had leftover vegetables to have with other meals or as snacks.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

After using up all the sandwich meat that comes in the covered containers, I reuse the containers for packing my lunches. I split the food between the containers. I know it does not look like much, but I bring other foods as well.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

This all made 6 meals, and I have a few snacks. Not too bad.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014.

So, this is my food from the days work:

  • 6 proportioned out slow cooker meals.
  • 6 vegetable jars.
  • Extra vegetables.
  • 2 applesauce jars.
  • A jar of pickled beets.
  • An orange.
  • 2 bottles of water. Free from a guest at work. (She actually gave me 8 bottles.) I’ll drink tea at work when I don’t have the water (also free), or the iced tea I made is for when I’m at home.

That is 6 meals and, because my work schedule changed this week, I only need two of them for work. I put three slow cooker meal portions into the freezer. They will be good on my days off.

You may also enjoy

More Work Week Meal Prep

Even More Work Week Meal Prep

Enjoy!

Shannon

 

Autumn Sausage Slow Cooker Meal

Autumn is here, and I’m using the slow cooker more and more. I love this time of year! The beautiful colors. The smell smoke from a wood stove here and there while out walking. And the aromas coming from kitchens as people are baking and cooking.

The squash I used in this recipe came from my parents garden, and it was delicious. I also used some of this squash when making the Butternut Squash and Carrot Mash.

Ingredients

2 carrots
4 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 small-medium butternut squash
19.5 ounces beef sausage

beef broth to cover (or you could use water)

  1. Rinse the vegetables.
  2. Cut the ends off the carrots, and peel the sweet potato and squash. Save the carrot ends and sweet potato peels in an odds and ends bag in the freezer, to be used when making homemade stocks and broths. Throw the rest out or compost it.
  3. Cut the vegetables into bite size chunks and place them into the crock.
  4. Add the sausage after cutting it into bite size pieces.
  5. Pour beef broth or water over the contents of the crock.
  6. Cover and cook. High = 3 hours/Low = 5 or 6 hours. Carrots should mash easily with a fork.

Tips

  • Try different types of squash. Acorn is a good one, and there are others.
  • There are also different varieties of carrots.
  • Grow your own vegetables to save money.
  • Use coupons combined with sales when buying sausage to save even more.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with a side salad of greens, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes.

You may also enjoy

Thanksgiving Leftovers – Yum!

Harvest Salad

Enjoy!

Shannon