Saturday, March 6, 2010

Found these facts on Families eating at the table

These came from

Liked them and thought I would share.

Facts That Can't Be Ignored...

- The average parent spends 38.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children. (A.C. Nielsen Co.)

- Family dinners are more important than play, story time and other family events in the development of vocabulary of younger children. (Harvard Research, 1996)

- Frequent family meals are associated with a lower risk of smoking, drinking and using drugs; with a lower incidence of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts; and with better grades in 11 to 18 year olds. (Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 2004.)

- Adolescent girls who have frequent family meals, and a positive atmosphere during those meals, are less likely to have eating disorders. (University of Minnesota, 2004)

Bonus Post: Super Easy Triple Chocolate Brownies

This recipe is so easy, cheap, yummy and makes a ton! I don't love super rich brownies and these fit my taste perfectly. Seriously... I CRAVE THESE! They are very moist (and stay moist for days) and more "cake-like" than "brownie-like."

Trust me, this recipe is a MUST HAVE for your recipe box. I try to keep these ingredients on hand in case we invite friends over for last minute dessert. This is a staple! Enjoy!

This is what you need:

2 cups milk, 1 package chocolate chips, 1 chocolate cake mix, 1 package of chocolate pudding (4 serving size)
If you buy all of these ingredients at Aldi, it adds up to about $2.30.

Step 1: Pour all your ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Step 2: Mix with a spoon until blended

Step 3: Grease a cookie sheet very well (Your cookie sheet needs to have about 1/2 inch lip) and pour your triple chocolate brownies into the pan.
*Very important- do not use a cake pan for this recipe. If you choose to use a cake pan, it will not bake as directed.

Step 4: Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Enjoy! These are good by themselves or with ice cream, but be careful b/c they will go fast! These brownies make so much that I usually give away 1/2 of the pan and keep 1/2 of the pan for our family.

Cost of brownies: $2.50 (ish) if spent at Aldi's

So the question is... is your family going to be loving on some triple chocolate brownies tonight?!?

Friday, March 5, 2010

How To: Steel Cut Oats

Oatmeal is good. And, it is good for you. Plain and simple.

Steel cut oats, the oat groat cut into chunky pieces, have been processed less than rolled oats. Rolled oats are flakes that have undergone steaming, rolling, and toasting. This process leaves them lacking in taste, texture, and natural health benefits.

Steel cut oatmeal is the way to go. This grain is full of vitamin B, calcium, and fiber.
And, boy oh boy, does it taste good!

Steel cut oatmeal does take longer to prepare than rolled oats. I am going to share with you two ways to prepare the oats, one being a time saving trick.

1. Regular Method

~In a sauce pan add one tablespoon of butter and melt.
~Add in one cup of milk.
~Add in three cups of water.
~Add in one cup of steel cut oats.

Cook, stirring often, for about 40 minutes.

Tip: Stay near the kitchen. These oats have a tendency to boil over easily! It is good to use a much bigger pot than what you think you will need!

Our family adds the following to our steel cut oats: Flax Seed, Wheat Germ, Bit of Brown sugar or Maple Syrup to sweeten it up, Raisins, Bananas, and Walnuts. But you can add whatever you like!

2. Quick Cook Method
If you do not have forty minutes in the morning to cook oatmeal consider the quick cook method.
~ Add 6 cups of water into a big pot.
~ Add one cup of steel cut oats.
~ Boil rapidly for TWO minutes.
~Remove from heat, let cool, do NOT drain.
~Store overnight in the fridge.
~ Come morning cook for 10 minutes on the stove.

Once we tried steel cut oats we were sold and will never go back to rolled oats. We purchase our steel cut oats in bulk and eat this breakfast several mornings a week. I have read about preparing steel cut oats in a pot in the oven. I am looking forward to trying this. Please share if you have any good ideas for steel cut oats!

Friday: Tuna Melts and Veggies

It's Tuna Melt Day!

This recipe is so super easy and it's great to use as a stand-by. As meal plans often go, things come up during the week and you may not have the time to prepare and cook a meal you had planned. If that happens, tuna melts are a quick fix!

For this recipe you need:

1/2 cup mayonnaise (more or less to taste), 1 can tuna, cheddar cheese (sliced or shredded), white or wheat bread.

Step 1: Mix tuna and mayo together (I usually just add a dollop or two until I get it to the consistency I wanted.

Step 2: Heat up your oven to 350 degrees.

Step 3: Put Mayonnaise or butter on both slices of bread

Step 4: Put tuna mixture and cheese on bread and add to pan

Step 5: Heat until bread is crispy and cheese is melted (about 8 minutes).

Step 6: Cut and enjoy! Add tomato or lettuce if you have it stocked in the fridge already and you've got a great dinner. Also- you can add cold carrots and celery- yum!

This is a pretty basic recipe for tuna melts. I would love to hear some of your recipes for this meal.

Post a comment and let me know what you do to jazz up your tuna melts!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thursday: Cornbread Pizza on the Grill or in the oven

This is one of my husband's favorite meals. Okay- it is his favorite! He LOVES anything to do with PIZZA. His mom made cornbread crust pizza for them growing up and he is a big fan!

I am going to do this recipe in 2 parts. The crust first and then on to the pizza toppings.

Here is what you need for the 2- 8'' pizzas:


1/2 cup yellow cornmeal *Frugal tip: once you buy a container of cornmeal for about $2.00, you will be able to use it to make several more pizza crust recipes in the future as well as homemade corn bread- YUM!)
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil

Here is what you need for your toppings:

1 Jar pizza sauce
2 cups shredded cheese (we use mozzarella)
pizza toppings (we use pepperoni and mushrooms) *Frugal Tip: Use your leftover toppings from "build a pasta" that you made earlier this week! Also, check your local grocery store for manager special items in your produce section.

Cornbread pizza crust directions:

Step 1: Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl (cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt)

Step 2: Mix Water and olive oil in a separate bowl

Step 3: Make a "well" in the center of the dry ingredients and add water/olive oil mixture

Step 4: Mix until soft dough ball forms

Step 5: Stick in refrigerator until ready to use!

Let's put it all together!

Step 1: Preheat your grill or oven (350 degrees) and then get your toppings ready! I like to pan fry my pepperoni until it is nice and crispy. Then I cooked my mushrooms until they were nice and soft. We bought a bag of cheese this time, so no cheese shredding needed! Remember, if you had ingredients leftover from your "build a pasta" this would be a great time to use them.

Step 2: Get your pizza dough out of the fridge and begin to form your mini pizza's or 1 medium size pizza. I usually make 2 mini pizzas by forming to small balls of dough and then stretching them until they are the size I want. Every once in awhile I try to do the fancy pizza crust toss into the air to see if it speeds the process up a bit.... it doesn't.

Step 3: Put your pizza crust on a pan and start with the sauce. Then pile on your toppings and last your cheese.

Step 4: If you are cooking on the Grill- place foil (spray w/ cooking spray first) on the grill and slow cook your pizza until the cheese is hot and bubbly. I say slow cook b/c our grill burns the bottom of the pizza if we turn it up too high. If you are cooking using your oven, place the pizza(s) on a greased cookie sheet in the oven until hot and bubbly (about 10-12 minutes for a 8 inch pizza)

Step 5: Cut and ENJOY! Our family also likes to add parmesan cheese or french dressing to our pizza to us a dip!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Plant Killer...

If you have been following our twitters, you know that I (Frugal momma) am trying my hand at growing cilantro, basil and tomatoes starting from seed. They started out great and we were so excited to see little sprouts growing!

But now.... I am so nervous I am going to kill them! I have been called by- ahem Katie (Tasty Green momma)... a Plant killer. Last spring she tried to revive my zucchini plant, egging it on with water, new soil and a new pot... telling it to "not give up!"

So, I need your help! Take a look at the pictures below, I took them today (Wednesday, March 3rd). Tell me what I need to do next!

Here is my basil: (looking good... but maybe a little overcrowded?)

Here is the cilantro: (Is it supposed to be that lanky looking?)

Here are my tomatoes:

So... for all of you gardeners out there- help me... I have a green thumb!

Should I transplant them? If so, how many sprouts do I put in a container? How big of a container?

Help... please!

What to do with that big bag of Potatoes you got for $.88

I got a big bag of potatoes for $.88. Steal of a deal. I'll show you some ideas of what you can do with a big bag of potatoes when you get them.
(first, take a look at this heart shaped potato I got in my last bag) :0) Love it. It's going to be a baked potato for husband today.

1. Sort through the bag, identifying and separating which potatoes will be used for what.
Cute little ones that are relatively the same size I use for making baked potatoes.
Big fat, strange shaped potatoes I use to chop up in a roast.2. Peel and cut potatoes for roast. Put in water to prevent from browning. These potatoes would also be great for "onion potatoes".Get the rest of your roast started. Allow the roast to cook as you chop up the rest of your onions.
The others get turned into "fries" of some kind that can be frozen and popped into the oven and used with a meal later. These would also be great for Taco Tater Skins.
Peel and rinse your potatoes.
Here are some ways you can chop your potatoes to make french fries:
1. Using a knife. 2. Using a crinkle cutter. 3. Using a mandolin will make for perfectly shaped potatoes that will all be uniform in size, making cooking even for all the potatoes. 4. Using a apple peeler/corer/slicer will allow you to get the peel off, and cut into curly fries all at once. So many options... which one will you choose? Season, cook, and freeze in the same way that you froze the onions.
Other options for using up those spuds can be found by clicking on one of the links below:
Crock Pot Potato Soup
Chicken Shepherds Pie
Beefy Bakes
Pork Loin Roast and Biscuits
Potatoes on the grill
Sarah's Cheesy Ham and Potatoes

Wednesday: Build a Pasta!

This is a great recipe to use when serving a large group or picky eaters. Build a Pasta includes pasta and sauce as your base and then you add your favorite toppings to the top. In order to keep this recipe frugal, I go to the produce department the day I am making it to find "manager special"/marked down produce. It is usually on manager special because it needs to be used within a few days. This is a great way to get marked down dairy products as well.

Here is what I used for my "base" pasta:

Bertolli crushed tomato and basil pasta sauce (I love the pouch, you just pop it in the microwave for 90 seconds. No sauce splatters all over my stove!) I used Rotini noodles b/c I was able to purchase the Smart Taste pasta for .57 at Wal-Mart. There was recently a coupon insert for $1 off Ronzoni pasta. The rotini noodles are also just fun!

Remember, this is your dish- you can choose to make 2 sauces: 1 tomato and 1 alfredo and 2 different types of noodles. I tried to make this dish as frugally as possibly, so I only used 1 of each.

Here is what I used for our toppings:

Sausage, cheddar cheese (shredded), parmesan cheese, mushrooms (manager's special) and a pepper from our neighbor's garden. The possibilities are really limitless for toppings. Buy as much or as little as you want to add to your pasta. Notice that most of my brands are generic. There really is not much difference in taste/quality branded or unbranded. It's a great way to save $$$ on your bill! The texas toast is for a side.

Step 1: Boil your Pasta. Add salt to the pasta water, this is the only time you can season your noodles.

Step 2: Chop your toppings, shred your cheese and prepare to build your pasta!

Step 4: Cook your pasta sauce and begin to cook your garlic bread

Step 5: Start with your base of pasta and sauce.

Step 6: Build your pasta with a few toppings. I liked to add mushrooms and peppers.

Step 7: Add shredded cheese

Step 8: Add garlic bread and a salad and you've built a pasta!

Just to show you how different each plate can be, here is my husbands' build a pasta

and my daughter's build a pasta She is 2 years old and LOVED this dish!

Cost of meal: $5.50 total (includes garlic bread and salad-also a manager's special)
Cost per person (serves 4)- $1.35

I would love to hear what your "build a pasta" toppings included. Leave a comment and let us know what toppings you would add to your build a pasta!