Frugal Recipes Happenings Summer 2019

I’m sitting at Aroma Joe’s, where I sometimes come to write when the internet is out at home, looking out the window and noticing the leaves have started to change. Fall is right around the corner.

What have I been doing? Enjoying fresh produce, hanging with my mom and sister, visiting farmer market’s. Waiting for autumn!

It’s been a good summer. The weather wasn’t too bad, overall. Though it was a wet season. A wet year, really. My parents garden did okay, but would have done better had the ground been dry enough for them to plant when they were supposed to. I’ve gotten a small number of zucchinis and cucumbers from them. Yum! I’ve also been enjoying the Madness boxes every two weeks from Misfit’s Market. While some of the produce has been consistent, there have also been differences in what I am receiving. And the convenience, wow! I’ve spent significantly less at Wal*Mart.

I’ve been enjoying salads, fruit-based cereals, juices, lemon and lemon-limeades, and more. I’ve also been enjoying other foods while hanging out.

Little MissSpending time with Little Man and Little Miss has been precious. Little Miss started crawling, and is now walking while holding onto things. She chats away like she is part of every conversation, and is so full of smiles and laughs. She turned one in July.

Little Man is getting so tall, and turned four just before his sister turned one. He and I went out looking for Dragons and Fairies and, I’m pleased to say, we came out of the woods with him holding onto his beliefs in them. I am good at what I do.

We had one birthday to celebrate both of their days, and it was so much fun. Little Man’s friends, Little Man, and Little Miss sure do love their fruit! I lost count of how many times they would come back to me asking for more fruit. I’m so happy to see them preferring the healthier foods.

Skye and her friend Phil took me out for a birthday dinner. We went to a new restaurant in Old Town called Outta the Ordinary, which is located in the same spot that Acme Pizza was located years ago when the girls were teenagers. We used to get pizza there sometimes. I got The Mainah! A pizza with lobster, clams, a butter sauce and corn. It cost more than $30! But it was Delicious. And so filling it lasted me three meals.

Zowie made me a dinner for my birthday, and baked a cake. Fajita’s, and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting that I got to share with her and the kids. Devan was working that evening, so I only saw him for a few minutes.

Skye and her boyfriend Ryan took me to Uno’s one evening, where I got a pasta dish with shrimp, and we watched some of a game, and the next day I went with Skye to Bar Harbor. While she worked, I walked around the Loop, taking pictures. I visited a few shops, and I found a juice bar where I enjoyed an very healthy smoothie! I also found an ice cream shop that has soft-serve ice cream made from almond milk. Great for me, with the dairy issues that I have. And it was delicious! Before we left, Ryan took us to The Thirsty Whale, a bar that serves food. Yum! Lobster Bisque is delicious. I also got to go into the very fancy hotel he works as a bartender.

Way fancier than The Inn where I work. We had a barbecue at The Inn the beginning of July. It was great fun.

Skye, my sister Sheila, nephew Isaiah, and I went to the Harry Potter birthday celebration at Diagon Alley Bangor, Maine! It was a great deal of fun, and I tried butter beer, finally. (Bring on the Immodium!)

Missy and I had a girls day! We headed to Western Maine, stopping at a craft show/farmer’s market, taking pictures, enjoying ice cream, and talking about so many things. We also stopped at yard sales. Another Immodium event! There was nothing healthy about this day’s food intake.

Right now, I’m on vacation. Despite the fun I’ve had, I’ve also been stressed and feeling unmotivated. I decided I needed to take some time off and get some perspective. There may be some changes coming up.

How has your summer gone? What new recipes or foods have you tried?

~ Shannon

 

Frugal Recipes Happenings, Winter 2018

Some of you will remember when I used to publish this newsletter right here on the blog. It was a long time ago. I’ve tried two other platforms for publishing since then, but neither was the same as posting straight to this blog. So I am posting here again. It feels more comfortable. The way it should be.

I will be combining all the old newsletter issues and other items into an ebook to offer free to anyone who wants it, like I did with Frugal Ways to Save Money in the Kitchen + Frugal Recipes for the Health Conscious. (Grab your free copy if you haven’t already!) I’m not sure when the new eBook will be ready, but I’ll announce it here on Frugal Recipes when it is.

Photograph copyright January 2018 by Shannon L. Buck. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuckThe temperatures here in Maine have been atrocious, making walking outside impossible. We’re finally getting a break from the extreme cold, though, so I have had a couple of opportunities to do some walking. Thank goodness! Walking always helps me to clear my head, and it helps to get the creative juices flowing. It refreshes the soul.

Some of the ideas that came to me during the first walk after that cold snap had to do with cooking and other kitchen related things. I have new recipes I want to experiment with, some crafty things I would like to do, and some nutritional things I want to learn more about. That’s also when I decided to move the newsletter back here, and create a freebie for you all out of the old issues.

All this means some exciting things for the Frugal Recipes blog, for you, and even for me! Visit often to see what I will be sharing, and let me know what you think of the things here on the blog – either by commenting on individual posts, or by emailing me at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you. 🙂

And please remember, I’m always here to offer up advice when funds are low and you’re not sure what to do.I love hearing from you.

The holidays were a stressful but fun time. I had to work, but I also found some time to spend with my family. Skye had moved back home in October, and Zowie and Devan brought Little Man for a couple of nights just before Christmas. Unfortunately, with my work schedule, I was not able to keep Little Man over night during their stay – which is something I always try to do.

Photograph copyright January 2018 by Zowie Arnold. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuckWhile I missed having our little slumber party, I still got to spend plenty of time with him. And before he left on Christmas Eve morning, he told me he loved me and wanted to stay with me forever. Awww ❤ My heart just melted.

We all went to my parents place on the 23rd, to celebrate with other family members, and then we moved our little party to my bosses office at work for my evening shift. The inn is not busy this time of year, so we were able to open our gifts to each other without too many distractions.

Zowie made everyone homemade marshmallows and homemade hot cocoa mix. Both were wonderfully delicious! I take full credit for her cooking and baking abilities.

My stepfather made his baked beans (my favorite!), and wieners (haha), and he and mom made fudge and snickerdoodles, for everyone to have have at their house. They even bought Governor’s rolls. Yum! I brought a vegetable tray, purchased at Walmart. Unfortunately, I had to work so much at the holidays that I did not get to enjoy the baking and cooking. But I sure did have enough leftovers of beans, rolls, and vegetables to last a few shifts at work.

However, the bestest and I did have our baking day earlier in the month. This was our third year.

Photograph copyright December 16, 2017 by Shannon L. Buck. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuckWe bake for whoever we will be seeing during the few day period after the baking date. For me, this was my coworkers, my sister, and everyone at Katie’s house. Together Missy and I put together baskets of goodies for a couple of long-time friends. One went to my friend Bob, who has been a friend to my family maybe longer than I have been alive. The other was for Dwight, best guy friend of the bestest’s since she was little. We spoiled them.

I also dropped a tin of goodies of to my friend Jesse at work on our way to back Orono. She had worked for me that night so I could have the entire day for baking, and I wanted to show her my appreciation. I knew lemon treats were her favorite, and that she loved no-bakes, so I made homemade lemon pound cake for the first time, and no-bakes – along with homemade gingerbread, and cookie bars.

The bestest made banana bread, Chinese noodles, and Christmas candies, and I helped her drizzle chocolate over pretzels. Our people were well taken care of. ❤

Have you noticed that the holidays are very food-centered? Even our work party centers around the food. This year, our boss took us to Governor’s, where they serve home-cooked style meals. The food was so good.

And my friend Jesse dropped me off a bag of treats and a scarf at work, which made my day. (And I just love when people help me to expand my fancy scarf collection!)

The previous year there were just so many bad-for-you foods, that even my mom commented that it was too much. So many of us didn’t feel good after a month of eating those foods, that I made the decision to not eat as much of the junk stuff this year as I used to. I’m happy to report that I came out of the holidays season feeling much better this year. While I didn’t give up the treats entirely, I did consume much less than in previous years.

Have you changed the way you’ve been eating at the holidays? I’m always trying to eat healthier. I love how I feel when I’m eating good-for-you foods rather than junk and overly processed foods. How about you?

With winter in full swing, I wanted to share some recipes with you. This tasty beef soup recipe will get you started. And why not enjoy some hot mulled cider or festive hot cocoa after spending a day shoveling. It’s definitely the time of year for soups and casseroles, and a good time to experiment with your own versions of both. I’d love to hear the results!

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck, copyright March 11. 2017. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/shannonbuckHeartier breakfasts are also welcome this time of year. Try pancakes with apple-maple syrup, an apple and sausage or banana and sausage oatmeal bowl, a corned beef and potatoes one pan meal, or a turkey and sausage one.

Egg scrambles are delicious as well. Try a turkey and squash or a turkey and tomato one. I also have a couple of omelet recipes you’ll like: Zucchini and carrot, and a spinach option.

I recently added a couple of recipes that will go nicely with many desserts. They use coconut cream as a base, and you add flavoring. I’m still experimenting with this one, and I figure you might want to do the same. Try the vanilla coconut cream and the peppermint coconut cream, and then try other flavoring options. Let me know how it goes!

 

A few of the things I’m using regularly in an effort to eat in a healthier way.

  • organic coconut oil
  • organic, raw honey
  • Vermont and Maine maple syrups
  • organic almond flour
  • organic almond butter
  • organic coconut flour
  • organic, unsweetened coconut flakes
  • baker’s cocoa made with 100% cacao

Healthy eating is different for each person. My way may not be right for you. It’s great if you have a doctor and nutritionist to work with. I can’t afford that, so I’m trying to figure it out on my own. I know that when I am eating about 80% Paleo or Whole30, I am losing weight and feeling great. That is what I’m striving for. I won’t lie though, it’s not always easy on my budget.

What food adventures will you take this winter? Let us know.

Shannon

shannonlbuck@gmail.com

eCover by Shannon L. Buck via Canva. Copyright December 2017. https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Go-Into-Woods-Alone-ebook/dp/B078H6T3FJ/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8P. S. I have a few things going on this year. First of all, I’d like anyone interested in creating the life of their dreams to check out my site at shannonlbuck.com. The site is called Create Your Success and while it could mean career-wise, it actually deals with all aspects of life.

Second, I have been writing fiction for some time now and I sell short stories on Amazon. If you’re a reader, I’d sure appreciate it if you would have a look and see if there is anything you are interested in. I’d also appreciate reviews!

And third, I also have a fiction blog you will enjoy, and would love it if you would sign up for my fiction mailing list to be one of the first to know about new releases, as well as letters about my fiction writing. Thank you so much!

 

Homemade Food Gifts: Baked Goods

The most frugal way to make these foods is from scratch. Admittedly, I often use boxed items when I’m able to purchase them on sale, with a coupon. They can be pretty affordable just before and during the holidays. The trick to doing this in the most frugal manner possible is by figuring out whether it is cheaper to bake from scratch or a box when all factors are added in, or deducted 🙂 Be sure to factor in home preserved produce for the food items that have fruit as an ingredient.
Just a note: These are not healthy baked-goods. But most people on my gift list won’t likely eat healthy versions. They like what they are used to. So yes, I give sweets at the holidays. Also, I don’t think it is necessarily bad to treat yourself once-in-a-while. You just don’t want to make a habit of it.

Fill baskets with one or more of the following:

  • HM (Homemade) quick breads
  • Quick breads from a box: Lemon poppy seed, apple cinnamon, pumpkin and cinnamon swirl are all tasty options.
  • Brownies
  • HM pumpkin chocolate chip cookies or bars.
  • HM sugar cookies decorated with colored sugars or icings.
  • HM apple or zucchini bars with chocolate chips.
  • HM mints

Tips

  • To save money on electricity, I bake multiple items at once.
  • To save time, I mix up multiple batches at once in large bowls.
  • To save a few more pennies, when mixing up multiple batches I delete and egg or two.
  • To save more money, I use small or medium eggs – or large depending on what is on sale. You can use any size eggs in baking, even if large eggs are specifically called for. 1 small or medium egg = 1 large egg.
  • Use mini loaf pans, if possible.
  • Use mini decorative cake pans for breads, bars and cakes.

What homemade baked goods do you make to give as holiday gifts? Please share with us in the comments below.

Shannon

 

Homemade Food Gifts: Dried Herbs

Throughout the summer and autumn months, you’ve harvested and dried organic herbs to use in your culinary ventures throughout the winter. As is usually the case, you have far more of these dried herbs than you’ll be able to use before the next harvest season. Why not share your bounty with family and friends?

Hopefully, throughout the year, you’ve been cleaning and saving the glass jars from your food purchases. Perhaps you have purchased canning jars, lids, and rings frugally at yard sales and thrift shops. You may also have fabric and twine and/or raffia from the projects that you’ve been working on throughout the year. If so, you have the makings for great holiday gifts.

Single Herb Examples

Basil

Bay leaves

Parsley

Rosemary

Sage

Herb Mix Examples

Basil, oregano and thyme

Basil, thyme and parsley

Dill, mint and parsley

Lemon balm and mint

Parsley and rosemary

  1. Sterilize all the jars, lids, and rings. Dry completely. It is important that no moisture is evident when packing the dried herbs.
  2. Fill the jars with single herbs, or herb mixes.
  3. Tie squares or rounds of fabric over the cover of each jar with twine or raffia.
  4. Add a tag or sticker to the jar with the name of the herb, and with ‘From (Your Names’) Garden.’

How do you package your dried herbs for gift giving? Share your ideas in the comments below.

You may also enjoy:

Candy-Filled Ornaments or Tags

Food Gifts for Yule and Christmas

Shannon

Reference:

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs (1987, Rodale Press)

Homemade Food Gifts: The Cooks’ Gift

If you’ve taken the time to make the homemade vinegars, oils and butters that have been featured here on the Frugal Recipes blog, then you have a great base for a cooks’ holiday gift. If you have made dried herb gifts, you will be able to add them to this. All of these items, combined with some homemade baked goods, will make a great gift.

Place a combination of these items in a large gift basket, over a dish or tea towel, or other fabric. Tie a bow on, and add a tag.

You can add to this gift if you have affordable ways of obtaining certain other items. For instance, why not add some homemade knitted or crocheted dish cloths to the gift. (My sister makes me a couple of these each year, and I just love them.) A dollar store will net you wooden cooking spoons and rubber spatulas, or even dish towels. I once found two large metal pots at a yard sale for .50 each. They were used, but looked almost new. A thrift shop may net you a hand grater for a quarter, or a couple of whisks. If you’ve been lucky enough to find such deals, create gifts with them.

This would be an easy project for children to put together, as they aren’t really preparing any of the foods themselves.

Tips

  • Combine in a container. No need to wrap.
  • If you choose to use a basket, they can be found affordably at thrift shops.
  • I once found four large baskets at a yard sale for $1.00 each.

What food gifts do you give at the holidays? Please share with us in the comments below.

Shannon

Note: I know sweets and many baked goods are not healthy, and that we really shouldn’t be eating them, but I have family members who don’t limit such things. So yes, I give these items at the holidays. Also, I don’t think it is necessarily bad to treat yourself once-in-a-while. You just don’t want to make a habit of it.

Leftover Thanksgiving Mini Casserole Cups

(For when you do not have enough ingredients for a whole casserole) Children who can use an oven by themselves will find this easy. Younger children can put the casserole together for you to bake. To make this recipe even easier, you can prepare it when cleaning up after your Thanksgiving meal, and pop it in the oven the next day. You could also put it into the freezer to save.

Ingredients

leftover turkey

leftover vegetables

leftover mashed sweet potato

water

  • Put 1/2 tsp.  water in each muffin pan cup that you will fill, and then fill each one you wont use 1/3 of the way with water.
  • Put a few bite-size pieces of turkey in bottom of each cup.
  • Add 1 tbsp. leftover vegetables.
  • Cover the vegetables with mashed sweet potatoes.
  • Bake at 350* until warmed through.

Tips

  • Can be frozen. Flash freeze in muffin tins. Pop out and put into gallon size freezer bag. Get out as much air from the bag as you can.

Serving Suggestions

 

Leftover Thanksgiving Fry Pan Meal

This recipe is frugal because it uses leftovers from you Thanksgiving meal. It’s easy enough for an older child to make.

Leftover Potatoes: You will want to make sure that these are warmed when the pan-fried food is done. You can do this in the oven. Sweet potato is a good choice.

Ingredients to put into pan:

coconut oil

turkey, bite size pieces

leftover veggies from the turkey dinner

add-ins you like: sliced onions, crushed garlic cloves, and parsley.

  1. Melt the oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the turkey, veggies, and add-ins.
  3. Cook until all is warmed through.
  4. Put on plates.
  5. Take the potatoes out of the oven and spoon them on the plates as well.
  6. Serve.

Tips

  • Try adding roasted squash to the meal as well.

Serving Suggestions

Shannon

Pumpkin and Marigold Centerpiece

This centerpiece is not difficult to make using a mid-size pumpkin, or even one a bit larger. It can be placed on the dinner table. A second can be made to be used as a mantle decoration.

Materials

1 pumpkin

sharp knife

flower-pot to fit inside the pumpkin

large spoon

organic potting soil

fresh Marigold plants, assorted colors if desired

  1. Cut the top off the pumpkin and discard. Scoop the insides of the pumpkin out, reserving the seeds for roasted pumpkin seeds.

  2. Allow the pumpkin to dry over night.
  3. Fill the flower-pot 2/3 full with organic potting soil, placing the plants in the pot how you want them, and cover their roots with more soil if necessary.

  4. Place the pot into the pumpkin.
  5. Water lightly when needed.

Tips

  • Grow your own pumpkin and marigolds to save money.
  • To save even more, reuse an old flower-pot or pick one up at a yard sale. Be sure to disinfect the pot and allow to dry completely before using.

Shannon

 

Thanksgiving Leftover Casserole

If you’re lucky you wont need to buy anything extra for this, making it a very frugal meal indeed. Children who can use an oven by themselves will find this easy. Younger children can put the casserole together for you to bake.

To make this recipe even easier, prepare it when cleaning up after the Thanksgiving meal, and pop it in the oven the next day. You could also put it in the freezer.

Ingredients

leftover turkey

leftover vegetables

leftover mashed potatoes (any kind)

water

  • Put 1/4 cup water in a baking dish.
  • Cover the bottom of the baking dish with bite size pieces of turkey.
  • Cover the turkey with leftover vegetables.
  • Cover the vegetables with mashed potatoes.
  • Bake at 350* until warmed through.

Tips

  • Squash could be used in place of the potato.
  • If there are varying tastes, or not enough potatoes to cover the casserole, top 1/3 with regular mashed potatoes, 1/3 with mashed sweet potato, and the last third with squash.

Serving Suggestions

Shannon

Homemade Food Gifts: Herbed Butters

Purchase sweet butter in large packages, preferably on sale. Generic and store brand butter is fine. Use a coupon if you have one.

Herbed butters are simple to make, and can be made up to three months before the date they will be given as gifts. Simply freeze them in 1/2 or 1 pint canning jars, or other thick jars that have been saved and cleaned for this purpose. Be sure to sterilize the jars before using them.

Two days before you wish to give the gifts, take the butters out of the freezer and place them into the refrigerator. The next day, you will want to tie a square or round of fabric over the jars’ lid with raffia or twine. Add a tag or a sticker with the name of each butter and its’ ingredients, as well as a line that reads ‘From the Kitchen of (Your Name).’

RATIO: 1/2 cup butter to 1 Tablespoon of herb or herb combination. Mix it all up well. (May need to be remixed before giving as a gift.)

USE: Herbs fresh from the garden or pot. Wash and mince them before use.

Variations:

  • Dill and mint
  • Garlic and marjoram
  • Parsley

Experiment with different herbs and combinations of herbs.

NOTE: These jars of butter do not need processing.

What combinations of herbs do you use when making butter? Please share your experiences with us in the comments below.

Shannon

References:

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs (1987, Rodale Press)