Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Easiest and Fastest Meal in the History of the Universe

So this family does meatless meals on Fridays for sure during Lent but also usually one other meal during the week as well. It saves money. Also, I was just diagnosed with Hashimoto's hypothyroidism and one of the things I need to check on is: should I be gluten-free? So I'm giving that a shot and so far my biggest temptation is the Little Debbie snack cakes I get for the kids for our weekly Poetry Snacktime. And I've only been doing it one day. Ugh.

Anyway, it's nice to have some GF options that are also meatless and yummy and fast and cheap and which the kids love!

Cans of chili beans, depending on the size of your family. Probably one can will feed 2-3 people depending on how old they are :-)
Fritos or off-brand corn chips in regular or chili cheese (again, depends on the size of your family)
Sour cream
Cheddar cheese
Rotel tomatoes and diced chilis

1. Heat up the chili beans on a stove in a pan.
2. Put Fritos in a bowl.
3. Put cheese on top of Fritos.
4. Put chili beans on top of the whole she-bang.
5. Top with sour cream and Rotel if you wish.
6. Enjoy!

Here's the cost breakdown of Frito Pie and sides and I even have some leftovers for a couple of people for the next day, or else it helps us to feed the extra kids we usually have over:

Chili beans (5 cans) = $2.95

Fritos (2 bags) = $3.00 (Got them on sale at Price Chopper but they may normally be even cheaper at Aldi every day)

Sour cream = $0.50 we only use part of a container

Cheddar cheese = $1.00 we don't use a whole lot

Canned green beans or carrots or some other fruit or veggie side; even applesauce = $2.00 or sometimes I might sneak in a can of diced tomatoes or some Rotel to spice it up for those who like it spicier

Total = $9.45 if we all drink water with dinner, which comes out to $1.35 per person. That is one cheap meal, the beans and Fritos are filling, AND it includes a fruit or veggie! No, it's not super healthy but we all need some fat in our diet and we don't eat this way all the time.

Just put Fritos in the bottom of a bowl, cover with warm chili beans and garnish the way you like with cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, anything!

What are your favorite meatless or GF meals?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole

Would you believe me if I told you I know how to make tater tot casserole over 30 ways?

I do.

And I put them all into an ebook cookbook then threw in a few chocolate recipes for good measure. Check it out

In the meantime, here's one of my family's favorite recipes:

Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole

1 ½ pounds ground beef
2 10.5-ounce cans cheddar cheese soup
½ pound bacon, cooked crispy
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
2 pounds frozen tater babies
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1/2 cup chopped onions

1.                   Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
2.                  In a skillet, cook bacon on medium heat until crispy, then put it on a couple of paper towels to soak up some of the grease.
3.                  In the same pan, cook ground beef and 1/2 cup chopped onions on medium heat until meat is brown. Drain the fat, then put meat/onion mixture in the bottom of the 9 x 13 pan.
4.                  Dump the bag of tater babies over the meat and arrange them so the meat is all snuggly and covered up.
5.                  In a bowl, mix the evaporated milk and soups. Pour mixture evenly over the top of the tater babies.
6.                  Top with cheeses.
7.                  Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes.
8.                 Take out of the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Simplify Your Pantry for Summer

I don't know about yours, but my pantry is a cluttered mess, and I end up wasting food because I can't even see it all because things are in front that we don't use much. I went looking for tips and found this gem from Frugal and Thriving:

A well-stocked pantry is one where you have an ample supply of foods you regularly eat – at least on a weekly or fortnightly basis. A cluttered pantry is full of foods you rarely eat.

Because we still do a little "homeschooling" and I work from home AND we spend a lot of time swimming, I want to prepare my pantry so my family can have a relaxing summer. So here are things I am using up before summer because I rarely use them, they take up too much space, or I bought them on a whim and nobody cares about them anymore:

  1. Coconut sugar — right now regular sugar is just fine, or honey is awesome, and also sometimes (under extreme duress) ...
  2. Trim Healthy Mama Super Sweet packets — I'm sorry, but I can't stand fake sugar. I mean, I know a lot of it is NATURAL ... I have tasted a Stevia leaf and it has that aftertaste! I need to just figure out how to eat LESS sugar and not SUBSTITUTED sugar.
  3. Coconut flour (nobody has a gluten problem in my house but this flour is AMAZING in chocolate chip cookies so I can see myself restocking in the fall!)
  4. Trim Healthy Mama Baking Blend ... again with the nobody has a gluten problem so I'm just going to use regular white and wheat flour once I use this up.
  5. Cranberry sauce — this was left over from when one of my kids worked on a Thanksgiving-themed meal for cooking class at co-op. Here's what I plan to make to get rid of it from Gluten Free on a Shoestring so I can also use up maybe my THM Baking Blend ... I'll let you know how it goes because I do like to substitute things. But also check out 7 Tasty Ways to Use a Can of Cranberry Sauce here!
  6. Treats like brownie mix, dream bar mix-ins, cookie mixes — summer is all about the FRUIT, people. Plus we are walking around in bathing suits ... enough said.
  7. Fancy hot chocolate mix from Christmas that we got as a gift. Time to drink it up. Maybe I can put it in a shake or something.
I'm curious to know what your pantry looks like and what you need to get rid of!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Cilantro Lime Pesto Chicken Fajitas with Low-Carb Tortillas

When my friend Maureen made this for my family recently, we all attacked it and could not believe how yummy it was! I’m not much of a cook, though, and just knew it would be too difficult for me to make. Boy, was I wrong! Check out this terrific recipe, perfect for a day when you are busy, perfect for doubling and freezing, or perfect for doubling and giving some to a friend! Let me know what you think!

Cilantro Lime Pesto Chicken Fajitas
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt, pepper and garlic powder
1/2 cup cilantro lime pesto (see below)
1 medium onion
1 pepper (whichever color you love best)
Tortillas (I love Mission brand’s carb control version, which is whole wheat also, but you can choose corn tortillas for a gluten-free version)
Taco sauce/picante sauce/salsa (whichever you prefer)
1 ripe avocado
Sour cream (omit for dairy free diets)
Shredded cheese (omit for dairy free diets)
I like for things to be super easy, so I love to cook the chicken breasts in the slow cooker for a few hours on high. When they are cooked through, I take them out, chop them up and toss the pieces in a bowl. Then I sprinkle on some salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. 

Then I cook my chopped peppers and onions in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil. That’s when the cilantro lime pesto comes in (see recipe below). I take about 1/2 cup of that and stir it into the chicken mixture. Ready to serve! If you love the pesto, you can just add more to your fajita for a refreshing take on a fajita.

Cilantro Lime Pesto
1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons sliced, toasted almonds
4 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/2 cup shredded Romano cheese
2 teaspoons salt
The chicken broth from the slow cooker, about 1/4 cup
Using a food processor, blend ingredients together until smooth.

I like to get Mission Carb Balance tortillas to eat with my creation. 

Check out my cookbook here in print and Kindle!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Take Your Lunch to School or Work and Save Big!

Yes, this has been said so many times and it's common sense. Spend a couple of bucks at the grocery store on ingredients to take your lunch somewhere or spend $5+ on a meal out. Let me give you a glimpse into what this means for my family if I could get my crap together on this one.

So we homeschool and only go to co-op one day a week. But that one day a week ... oh, it is easy to hit Chik-fil-A for lunch while my bigger kids are in Mass. And I end up spending at least $45 including drinks, and I never work it into the budget. My salad I love there is $8+ alone. So here's my plan for the rest of the school year, starting today:

  1. I went to Aldi on Monday and made sure I remembered to put on my list LUNCH FOR CO-OP TWO WEEKS. Conversely, I also knew we were going to the zoo on Thursday and I'm planning on packing in all our food for that as well. A key to planning stuff is REMEMBERING. EEK! Always keep an ongoing grocery list in a prominent place in your house!
  2. For the kids: I got bread at 25 cents a loaf, already have peanut butter and jelly, got some Pringles, got a package of Hershey bars (splurge) for $4 for for 6 (the extra bar is either for my husband or for the sweet little kid who always comes to me for sweets in the lunchroom ... or maybe for our buddy who sits with us at our table!). I have things like oranges and carrots at home.
  3. For me, I had some huge packages of these cool salads that I get at WalMart Neighborhood Market for $2.50 each. I can eat the entire bag if I have time and it fills me up and gives me energy for the day.
  4. I also grabbed juice pouches at Aldi.
Let's figure this up:

My food = $2.50 (I drink water)
Bread = $0.25
Peanut butter = $1.00
Jelly = $1.00
Bag of baby carrots = $1.00
Hershey bars = $4.00
Pringles = $1.45
Juice pouches = $2.45 for 10 of them ... we like to share them or the bigger kids might have two

Total for lunch AND dessert = $13.65 versus $45 eating out ($2.28 per person)

What could this save us in a month? $124. And if I did that three months in a row I would theoretically have enough to make an extra payment on my van.

I know I could save even more if we drank water and I got a $1 bag of cookies for our treat but I'm starting small for now with where my brain is. I'm not trying to make saving money painful for my family. I just want us to be more aware of what we mindlessly spend money on just because it's EASY or QUICK.

P.S. I changed my mind at the last minute and we are having hot dogs instead. $1.99 for the cheese hot dogs and $0.85 for the buns.

Monday, December 11, 2017

What's for Dinner? Slow Cooker Pulled Pork, Egg Noodles, Carrots

Recently at Aldi I got 2 barbecue-flavored pork loins and threw them in the slow cooker so we can have pulled pork tonight when we get home from Religious Ed class. I go with about 6 hours on low.

The cost of the pork loins was $11.13

Bread to turn it into sandwiches $0.85

I served carrots my husband had canned from our garden the previous summer. What price should I put on things we canned? It does take some money to make a garden and buy canning supplies once and reuse them, etc. I'm going to call it $1.00 per jar and we go through 2 jars. Let me know what you think on pricing this!

I also served egg noodles on the side $1.29

Half gallon of milk to drink = $1.25

Total for meal: $16.52

Total per person divided by 7 = $2.36 (of course, the 6-year-old eats less than the 14-year-old but it all evens out!)

UPDATE: Julia ate with us and there were leftovers so we are calling this divided by 8 = $2.07 per person plus leftovers for Mr. Kerrie for the next day!

I think that's a decent price but we can do even better. Don't worry ... I have a stupid dinner purchase coming up where I spent $5 per box on potato-encrusted cod at Aldi so I'll show you how I sometimes also can make a more costly dinner!!!!

If you liked this recipe, you'll love my book, The Tater Tot Casserole Cookbook! It's available in print and ebook versions (free if you are a Kindle Unlimited member so you can try it before you buy it in print!).

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Chocolate Chip Cookies Using Coconut Flour #glutenfree

I accidentally fell into these and now I don't want to make them any other way! I've had this coconut flour around the house FOREVER. I bought it a long time ago because I am a sucker for anything coconut. Coconut fanatic, that's me. But I never could cook anything with this flour just right. Until my accident.

I had made the chocolate chip cookie recipe from the package like usual. Then I remembered I wanted to use up that blasted coconut flour. So I tossed in a cup (normal cookies take TWO cups of white or wheat flour) and it got pretty thick. I tossed in a third egg and it seemed perfect. Baked those puppies and VOILA!

I later looked online to see that you use less coconut flour than regular flour, so I'm glad I didn't try to cram in 2 cups of coconut flour or we would have had some hockey pucks around the house to play with.

Here's the recipe:

1 cup unsalted butter (two sticks; I put them in a plastic bowl and microwave them for 30 seconds to get them soft)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I'm too lazy to pack it so I just toss in a full cup; seriously!)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup coconut flour
12-ounce package chocolate chips

I do not mix dry and wet ingredients separately. This blog should be called THE LAZY COOK, quite honestly. My stuff always turns out great anyway. I put the things in the bowl in the order shown above and stir here and there, of course sampling it after the butter/sugar part YUM.

Toss in chocolate chips last.

I have this great little scoop that I use to make little balls on the sheets but you can do regular spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. I bake them about 5 minutes then smack them flat with a metal spatula or they won't fall down themselves.

Then I cook them maybe another 5 minutes but all ovens are different so watch them the first batch.

ENJOY! These are moist and yummy even if you burn them. Ask me how I know!

If you liked this recipe, you'll love my book, The Tater Tot Casserole Cookbook! It's available in print and ebook versions (free if you are a Kindle Unlimited member so you can try it before you buy it in print!).