Archive for the ‘frugal’ Category

Quickie: Pasta-less Carbonara

This is a quick meal hack: making carbonara without pasta.  Generally, I don’t eat a lot of pasta anymore, but occasionally, I just say “screw it” and make a bowl of the real stuff.  None of this shirataki/squash BS; I have real rice sticks with my pad Thai and real spaghetti with my tomato sauce.  But this week, I flat-out forgot to buy a box of pasta, and my pantry is such that pasta just isn’t a staple I keep stocked.  So I’ve come up with a quick, easy, grain-free way to enjoy the eggy-creamy-cheesy-bacony goodness of carbonara without pasta.

Potatoes.  Yeah, not low-carb, but they’re delicious and I find them far easier on my digestion than gluten grains anyway.  I mixed in some diced zucchini as well, since I’m starting the produce and protein challenge tomorrow and also because I overbought zucchini at the market (easy to do this time of year).

Potatoes alla Carbonara

Potatoes alla Carbonara

3-5 small red potatoes, cubed

1-2 zucchini, diced

1 egg + 2 egg yolks

2-4 Tbsp. cream

1/2 c. grated hard Italian cheese (I think I used Romano)

6 strips of bacon, baked and chopped, grease reserved

Start by steaming the potatoes until just tender.  While the potatoes steam, whisk together eggy goodness, cream, and some pepper if you want.  Add the zucchini to the steamer about 5 minutes before the potatoes finish.  Remove your steamer basket and empty the water out of your pan and put the veggies back in over medium heat.  Add 3-4 Tbsp. bacon grease and stir to coat.  Add in the egg mixture and 1/2 the cheese.  Stir until a creamy sauce forms.  Add in the bacon.  Serve over a bed of kale and top with the rest of the cheese.  Makes 2 generous servings.

This post is part of Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet.


Leftover Hash and Frugal Tips from this Week

This week I made a meatloaf on Monday night, which left me with some nice leftovers last night.  Hash is one of my favorite ways to use leftover meat, especially the night before I run in the morning.  Potatoes fill out what may or may not be sparse amounts of meat, and you can throw the veggies right into the hash, or else serve the hash over steamed veggies.  It’s a great way to reheat foods without a microwave and get some nice browning on them.  I’m giving my recipe for hash using leftover meat loaf, but you could use hamburger patties, cubed meat, or just some fresh ground meat.  And feel free to use any substantial veggie for the bulk.

Now for some tips for keeping it frugal from this week:

1.) Make your own jewelry and investigate alternative ways to manage your health.

2.) Use bountiful veggies to make moist, healthy muffins.

3.) If you’ve been practicing for a while, try building a yoga home practice.  You’ll save on class fees and transportation, and you can move through your practice at your own pace with modifications if you need, without worrying about what anyone else thinks.

4.) Use your leftovers!  Use substantial veggies like potatoes, winter squash, sweet potatoes, etc. to fill out meals to stretch more expensive ingredients, like pastured meats.

Yeah, I forgot to take a picture before digging in.

Leftover Hash

Potatoes, cut into cubes about 1/3″ on a side

Meat, cut into similarly small cubes

Other veggies, if desired


Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  When it’s hot, add ghee to the pan and let it melt.  Add the potatoes and a pinch of salt.  Cook, tossing every 5-10 minutes until browned and cooked through (about 30 minutes).  Add the meat and let brown.  Flip/toss and let brown some more.  Add other veggies if you want and allow to warm/cook through.  Remove the hash to plate, serve it over steamed greens, and top with white gravy, if you have it.

This post is part of Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet.

Soaked, Gluten-free Zucchini-Walnut Muffins

I posted about the muffins I made this weekend on Twitter and got a request for the recipe.  While I got the basic structure of the recipe from Food Renegade, I made enough changes on my own that I’ll post my recipe.  It’s zucchini time, and I tend to go a little overboard buying them at the market.  Especially when the farmers have started selling them in bundles rather than individually.  And the little buggers last for a while in the fridge, so I felt like using up some week-or-more-old zucchini this weekend.

This is a recipe using gluten-free flours.  Since millet and sorghum are both whole grain flours, I soaked them in yogurt, water, and a splash of lime juice overnight.  Then, I added more sweet rice flour to the batter in the morning, which I did not soak, since it’s not a whole grain flour.  If you’re making this with wheat flour, you’ll probably want to soak all your wheat flour, which will make the soaked mixture thicker.  Also, moisture + time + room temperature soaking will activate gluten, so a soaked-wheat-flour version of these will have a stretchier batter.

Serve with lots of fresh butter

Zucchini-Walnut Muffins

65g sorghum flour

65g millet flour

15g ground flaxseeds

1 6-oz. container of whole-milk yogurt

2 oz. water with a splash of lime juice

2 Tbsp. ghee, at room temperature

40g honey

1 egg and 1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp. salt

cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, to taste

1 tsp. baking soda

60g sweet rice flour

125g grated zucchini (about one small-to-medium)

handful of walnuts, soaked, dried, and chopped

Mix together the sorghum, millet, flax, yogurt, water, and lime juice in a container.  Allow to soak overnight.  Beat together the ghee, honey, egg, egg yolk, salt, and spices.  Add the soaked mixture, sweet rice flour, and baking soda.  Fold in zucchini and nuts.  Fill lined muffin tins with 1/3 cup of batter each and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until browned, springy, and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10-15 minutes before eating with lots of butter.  Makes 10 muffins.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Homemade Healthy Bread

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that my husband is the master breadmaker of the two of us.  I just don’t have the patience needed to deal with bread, most of the time.  But I love homemade bread.  And with the renewed vigor of my commitment to traditional food preparations, I thought I’d try to make my own loaf of bread to eat this week.  Because eating healthy just isn’t as bad when there are bread-and-butter sandwiches involved.

I used a recipe I got from Passionate Homemaking for soaked whole grain bread, cut it down to my needs, and made a couple of tweaks.  I’m going to post the entire process as I experienced it, even though I’ve linked the recipe, since the original recipe is for 4 loaves of bread and plenty of people commented wanting to know how to make less.

Soaked Whole Wheat Bread

Soaked grain mixture:

2-3/4 cups white whole wheat flour

1/4 cup yogurt

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup oats

2 Tbsp. ground flaxseeds

2 Tbsp. honey

3 Tbsp. melted ghee

The day before you want bread, mix these together.  It’ll take some doing, as there isn’t a whole lot of moisture here, but it should eventually come together into a kind of dry scone-like dough.  Cover tightly and leave out at room temperature for 12-24 hours (I did 18).

Yeasty stuff:

2 tsp. yeast

3 Tbsp. warm water

dab of honey (maybe 1/2 tsp.?)

Mix this together and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until it gets foamy and alive-looking.  Then add this, along with 2 tsp. salt (I use Real Salt) to the dry soaked grain mixture.  This will eventually come together into a goopy dough.  Add some white or sprouted flour to get into a soft, cohesive mass.  Knead more flour into it as you knead the dough for 10 minutes, or until it becomes somewhat smooth and beautiful (the oats and flax will mar the smoothness just a bit).  It should feel bouncy.

Retire this lovely lump of dough to a greased-up bowl, rub the top with some of your greasing medium (I used softened ghee), and cover with a damp towel for an hour and a half to rise.  It’ll double in size.  Then, punch it, flip it, and let it rise again for 45 minutes.

Then, form it into a loaf and put it on it’s final baking destination (I used a 5×9″ loaf pan that was greased and floured) and cover with your damp towel to rise again for 30-45 minutes, or just until doubled in size.  About 10 minutes before you want to bake, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Cut a slit in your loaf to control where the crust will crack while baking.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees and the loaf is browned and gorgeous.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out and cool on a wire rack.  Let it cool for a combined 20 minutes, at least, before slicing.  Grit your teeth because you’ve been smelling fresh bread for the last hour.  Then, slice off the heel, slather in good quality butter, maybe some honey or jam, and enjoy the fruits of your labors.  If you want to keep it longer than a couple days, I recommend slicing it up and freezing it in parchment and aluminum foil.

Makes one loaf.

This post is part of Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet and Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.

One $20 Chicken, So Much Bounty

This post is a bit late coming, but I wanted to share my adventures with local, pastured chicken. I got to the market on Sunday and knew I wanted a chicken from Lynne Ferguson, so I sent my husband to get extra cash. There she was, setting up her stand, with a hand-written sign that declared “Fresh Killed Chickens.” Yes.

Me: “Hey, are all your chickens spoken for or could I buy one?”

Lynne: “Yeah, they’re running about 4-6 pounds so let me know how big of one you want.”

Me: “Well, it’s just the two of us, so how about closer to 4 pounds?”

Husband showed up with money and we got ourselves a chicken.  Little over 4 pounds, $16.50.  Squishy and slightly bloody.  It was on.

I made roast chicken for Sunday dinner, served up both leg quarters to my husband and ate a wing and a breast myself.  Sauteed leeks in the chicken-y, fatty drippings until they were melty and yielding and spread that over my chicken, all on a bed of fresh steamed kale.  Heaven.

The fun part.

Then, the fun part.  Picking the carcass and loading all the bones into the crock pot and setting it to simmer away for over 24 hours.  Oh ye gods, the smells coming from that pot were excruciating.

I got 2 quart-sized containers of golden, amazing broth from that bird, along with a bit more, about 1-2 cups, which I used in my Tuesday night, post-climbing chicken stew, along with the rest of the chicken meat.  A hearty dinner, if I do say so.  The rest went into the freezer, where it will yield at least 2 more meals, if I just make soup, and could stretch to up to 4 meals if I don’t use all 4 cups in each container at once.  I have a feeling they will be soup, though.  Soup is my favorite impromptu meal.

All told, I got 2 hearty meals for two, plus 2 quarts of broth in storage for $16.50.  No, it’s not an oven-stuffer-roaster, but it’s such better quality.

Oh, and I stuck the liver in the freezer instead of throwing it in with the broth like I did the heart and neck.  Mmmm… I’ll have myself a treat one day when I fry that up with some onions and maybe some bread and butter.

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.

Quick Meals and a Weekend Brunch

I thought I’d take this Saturday morning to share some of the quick meals, along with my brunch today, which was decidedly un-quick.

Egg Foo Yung is one of my favorite applications for a quick, often meatless, meal. Eggs are fairly cheap, and these omelette/pancake things tend to use pre-cooked veggies, so they’re good leftover vehicles. This one used leftover roast chicken, collard greens, and some sliced onion. Just fry up the onion, shred the chicken, chop the greens, and stir the whole thing into 2-3 beaten eggs with a dash of tamari. Pour into a pan and cook covered for 3-5 minutes, flip and cook until browned.

Stir-fries are another great quick meal. This one is ground beef with carrots, onions, curry powder, cabbage, and coconut milk. Brown the beef, add the onions and carrots, add the curry and coconut milk, and then the cabbage and cook covered until the cabbage is tender. Delicious and quick, and the fat from the coconut milk means I can use a little less meat and still have a filling, nutritious meal.

This is my brunch from today. Definitely not fast, but so worth it. It’s Saturday, after all. I fried up some slices of sweet potato in ghee and bacon grease, and served it with a scramble of eggs, kale, and bacon. All washed down with some green tea. Yum!

Banh Mi at home, and Pork Liver Pate

Crazy week with no posting last week, but I do have something new to share. I made my own banh mi sandwiches. Banh mi are awesome Vietnamese sandwiches with French influence from the imperialist period. I’ve found a great little deli near work that makes them and I’ve learned to love the combination of creamy mayo and pate. Couple that with the 3 lbs. of pork liver I have sitting in my freezer right now, which I got for free from Lynne Ferguson at Ferguson Family Farm, and you have a recipe for homemade banh mi madness!

First, I made carrot and daikon pickles by jarring up some julienned veggies with a vinegar-sugar-and-salt brine with spices. Yum. Then, I got to work on the pate. The recipe is below, if you’re interested. Most pork pate recipes call for other meat besides the liver, but I used bacon instead. Then, I made homemade mayo. I put the whole thing together on a piece of French bread with grilled marinated beef and some fresh watercress, since my store was out of cilantro. Super-yummy.
I also made a modified version for breakfast by spreading mayo and pate on a fresh roll and stuffing it with carrot and daikon pickles!
Pork Liver and Bacon Pate
4-6 oz. of bacon, chopped
1-2 Tbsp. ghee
12 oz. pork liver, sliced or chopped
1/2 onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
splash of white wine
3 Tbsp. softened butter
Put the bacon in a cold pan and turn the heat on to low or medium-low to render out the fat without crisping the bacon. You want really wiggly pieces here. Add in the ghee, turn up the heat to medium, and move the bacon to the edges of the pan. Add the pork liver pieces and saute until browned. Add the onions and garlic and a generous splash of white wine and simmer the whole thing, covered, for a half an hour or so. Let simmer uncovered to let most of the liquid evaporate off. Let this cool for a while. When it’s cool, process the meat mixture to break up the larger pieces, then process some more with the softened butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 2 cups of pate.
This post is part of Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet and Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.