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This was a “free” meal. My dad had given us a ham at Easter time. (He does this every year, Christmastime too.) We have it cut into two ends and some ham steaks for use throughout the year. My parents also gave me the potatoes, as well as a bunch of other stuff that would spoil over the time they are on vacation. The beans were from my dad’s garden. I made garlic bread from some Italian bread that was hanging around.

We have leftovers for Tuesday’s supper plus some for lunches. There are those that just don’t enjoy eating leftovers, or dishes multiple times in a row. We don’t mind. If it’s good it’s good and this is one of those meals that just gets better as it is reheated.

This dish is not extremely healthful yet it’s not completely horrible for you either. The ham was lean and you can always skim the fat after it’s cold, yet another perk of refrigerating and reheating. I added a lot of green beans. I figure it’s a good two servings per bowl. Besides, it’s getting to be the main harvest season of summer. We can play make up with nutrition with the bounty of summer fruits and veg that will be plentiful and inexpensive in the weeks to come.

We are fed and God is good. There are those who are much worse off. We should count our blessings.

Ham string beans and potatoes

 

I put the ham end in a crock pot with water almost to cover and let it cook on high for about an hour. In the meantime I peeled and cubed potatoes and added those to the crock pot. Lastly I rinsed, cut the ends off of the beans and cut them in half and threw them in. They were the hearty Italian bean variety, heirloom seeds. My dad gave me some for my garden too. Mine are just starting to show signs of beans. I added a small minced onion and a teaspoon of garlic powder. Then I turned it to low and let it cook all day. I’m sure you could just throw it all in and cook it all day on low. That’s what’s nice about a crock pot in the first place. If I had more people to feed and/or didn’t have the potatoes I would have made homemade pot pie noodles, or just made ham pot pie, with carrots, which are cheap all year round.

Homemade Stromboli

I goofed last week and it really threw a wrench into our budget. It made it imperative that I utilize all I have in the freezers, frig and pantry to make it to the next pay period without having to buy too much. For this meal I found leftover pepperoni, sausage, red peppers and pizza sauce in the freezer. I had onions and ham in the frig and green peppers and Italian parsley and basil in the garden. I bought the thin crust pizza dough and the cheese. I know I could have made my own dough, but, I needed to bake for church tomorrow and that seemed like enough. We typically enjoy one “naughty” meal out over the weekend after my husband gets paid. I figured an easy meal of homemade stromboli would mimic that take-out treat  we are used to, without the expense.

I sauteed the meats and veg together in a little olive oil, added some garlic powder and black pepper, poured it on the crust on a cookie sheet, topped with cheese (used colby/jack because I’m using some for another recipe later on), and baked at 400 for 12 minutes. I topped this with the pizza sauce. It was better than take-out.

homemade stromboli

 

Yes. Those are biscotti cooling on the racks in the background.

Craving this every time I try to go low carb

Oatmeal Pancakes and sausages

Simple Supper

Today was one of those days where I needed something easy to prepare and to the table in a flash. Autumn is upon us and it made me think of good old-fashioned creamy tomato soup and toasted cheese with red grapes for dessert. Nothing fancy about this meal but I sure didn’t hear any complaining. I used 1% organic milk in the soup and whole wheat bread with extra fiber for the sandwiches. The cheese is light American, but not organic. Sometimes you have to pick your battles. In this case I’m talking about the battle with price and availability of certain items.

Creamy tomato soup and toasted cheese with red grapes

Creamy tomato soup and toasted cheese with red grapes

Toasted cheese

Toasted cheese

It was a comfort food mood tonight. We enjoyed pork chops fried with onions and peppers, spicy jack scalloped potatoes and zucchini and summer squash. Not what you would call healthful, but it’s time to clean out the pantry and freezer as we are embarking on a two week experiment starting Friday, September 6. We’ll be switching over to mostly organic and cutting out red meat and processed foods. We’ll see how much better we feel after that detox.

Pork chops, spicy jack scalloped potatoes, and zucchini and summer squash

Pork chops, spicy jack scalloped potatoes, and zucchini and summer squash

Tacos Revisited

When life hands you leftover taco ingredients…make a salad. Let’s face it. Leftovers are boring. So what do you do when faced with perishable ingredients that just aren’t going to keep for a few days and leftovers from the previous night in the frig? Instead of wasting your hard-earned dollars that went into buying those ingredients, find a way to reinvent the dish.

There are those who don’t mind a repeat performance, but then there are those who just despise leftovers or simply have a hankering for something new and different each day. For the later crowd, spruce up what you already have and it’ll hardly be like eating leftovers at all, whether it be tacos turned into a salad or leftover chicken or turkey dinner fixins morphed into a gourmet chicken sandwich or “waffle”. You’ll have to stay tuned for that one.

Her taco salad

Her taco salad

His taco salad

His taco salad

Yum!

Yum!

Beefed up Tacos

It may seem like a contradiction but I beefed up our tacos by using less beef. An addition of dark red kidney beans and corn added nutrition by way of fiber and antioxidants, and reduced the amount of meat we ate without even noticing. It’s a great way to save a little off of your grocery bill too. Beef is becoming more expensive, even the ground variety. We enjoyed these with a scant sprinkling of a Mexican cheese blend, baby leaf lettuce, fresh, juicy tomatoes from the garden, and our very first batch ever of homemade salsa.

Beefed up tacos

Beefed up tacos

Beefed up tacos

Beefed up tacos

Shave off some fat and calories by using ground turkey or chicken. Just make sure it’s skinless ground breast meat you’re buying or you could be eating just as much fat as in ground beef. We used 90% ground beef here.

What’s Been Cooking

The sabbatical has ended.

What a better way to begin than to share some of the frugal and healthful things we’ve been consuming. That seems to be the number one complaint I hear since I’ve stopped posting. “I miss seeing what you’ve been cooking!”

BBQ Ribs, Coleslaw and Potatoes

BBQ Ribs, Coleslaw and Potatoes

Coleslaw is cheap to make, even if you buy the bag of shredded veg on sale. Make your own low-fat dressing or buy a low-fat version. It gets better as it sits in the frig and is an easy and delicious side dish to serve with many different kinds of meals.

Buffalo Chicken Sloppy Joes, Loaded potatoes and salad

Buffalo Chicken Sloppy Joes, Loaded potatoes and salad

A more healthful spin on a family favorite, using ground chicken breast and packed full of veg. There has to be more than a serving of veg in this sandwich.

Chili con Carne Meatballs over bulgar wheat

Chili con Carne Meatballs over bulgur wheat

Chock full of fiber with beans and bulgur wheat. Lean ground turkey was used for these spiced up meatballs.

Chicken Marsala, Spaghetti and salad

Chicken Marsala, Spaghetti and salad

Chicken and onions sautéed with Marsala wine. This meal only took minutes to prepare. We used leftover spaghetti and a nice green salad to round out the meal. Use up those leftovers!

Greek Chicken Salad with homemade Tzatziki sauce

Greek Chicken Salad with homemade Tzatziki sauce

This dish was a spin-off of something I saw Jamie Oliver create on his 15 minute meals. If you think you can’t get a nutritious and quick meal on the table you need to watch a couple of his shows about this concept. Couscous only takes minutes. Utilized your food processor to help you with the veg. Homemade Tzatziki is a delicious and refreshing treat.

Pignoli (pine nut) Cookies

Pignoli (pine nut) Cookies

These were a splurge but pine nuts are good for you. If you’re going to eat sweets why not get a little “nut”trition why you’re at it. It’s also a bonus to share traditional ethnic recipes with your children.

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

Fresh from the garden stuffed peppers. Stretch your meat of choice by adding whole grains and vegetables to your stuffing. Comfort food at its best.

Enjoy! There’s a lot more to come.

I’m finding myself at the end of this pantry challenge hosted by Jessica of Good Cheap Eats. I have to say that I’m ready to be done with it. Searching for sales is a passion of mine, and although I did a little during this challenge, I didn’t accomplish what I usually do. It was a nice break from major coupon clipping, organizing and shopping though, and did save us some money.

Here’s our menu for this last week…

Sunday – Stuffed pork chops, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas

Stuffed Pork Chops

Stuffed Pork Chops

Monday – Panko, Parmesan, and Italian seasoned baked chicken breasts with olive oil and garlic couscous and Brussels sprouts.

Panko, Parmesan crusted chicken breast

Panko, Parmesan crusted chicken breast

Tuesday – Cube steak “cheese steak” sandwiches, oven fries – regular and sweet potato

This is my aunt’s idea and very delicious.

cube steak cheese steak

cube steak cheese steak

Wednesday – oven baked fish, potatoes, salad

Thursday – Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger Pies, pickles, wedge salad

My daughter and future son-in-law made this special supper for us. They love to cook together and he feels it creates more of a bond than just going out to eat for a “date night”. I think it’s absolutely wonderful. I used the last of the pretty, colorful bell peppers on our salad as we did not have any tomatoes.

Cheeseburger pies

Cheeseburger pies

Friday – Old Country Buffet with extended family

As we had to head north anyway to drop future son-in-law off at college  we figured we’d head north another half hour and enjoy a family outing. My bonus son (a.k.a step son, but we never use that particular title) has been inquiring when we might visit that particular restaurant again. We used to take road trips and take the children there once in a while when they were young. It’s nice to know that they enjoyed it and look forward to those family outings.

Saturday – Tatertot Casserole, broccoli

Next month will be a month of soups. I don’t plan on having soup at every single supper meal, but, we will be enjoying soup three to four days a week with a few meatless soup meals planned in as Ash Wednesday is on February 13 and will be the beginning of the Lenten season.

We’re still plugging away at this pantry challenge here at the frugal and healthful house. Here’s our week of dinner menus. Be sure to check out Good Cheap Eats. Jessica who is hosting this pantry challenge has tons of great ideas and encouraging words.

Sunday – Pizza

Check here for an easy do-it-yourself pizza crust and here’s a few other pizza recipe ideas.

Meatball and Provolone Pizza

Meatball and Provolone Pizza

Monday – Sausage and bean soup.

Sausage and Bean Soup with Parmesan

Sausage and Bean Soup with Parmesan

A very yummy soup we make quite often with pantry and freezer staples. It’s even better as leftovers because it gets thicker and yummier.

Tuesday – Wicked Chicken Rigatoni

bell pepper and onion mixture

bell pepper and onion mixture

colorful bell peppers I found on sale at Aldi

colorful bell peppers I found on sale at Aldi

These were too beautiful to pass up for the price so I planned to use them for the Rigatoni dish as well as the Chicken ala King, with the remainder chopped into salads and the Shepherd’s pie meatloaf base.

Chicken Rigatoni that we demoted to just spicy instead of wicked..without the chili peppers

Chicken Rigatoni that we demoted to just spicy instead of wicked..without the chili peppers

This recipe was adapted from an episode of triple D (Diners, Drive Ins and Dives)…one of our favorite shows. We kicked it down a notch by not adding the chili peppers. Sautee a third of three colorful bell peppers or one pepper of your choice, a small chopped onion, three cloves of garlic, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried basil, cayenne and crushed red pepper to taste in a little olive oil. Brown 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast pieces cut up in olive oil until done. You will need to boil your rigatoni according to package directions and drain right before serving. To your pepper mixture add a 28 ounce can of tomatoes. You can use whole and break them up and a small can of tomato paste. You may also use your favorite spaghetti sauce.  I was looking for a more rustic dish so I used Wegman’s kitchen cut tomatoes. Add a 1/2 cup of grated Romano cheese.  I also added a couple teaspoons of Spatini. Allow your pepper and tomato sauce mixture simmer for at least 30 minutes and up to 90 minutes. Combine your chicken and sauce. Serve over the rigatoni. Sprinkle with additional cheese.

Wednesday – Dinner out utilizing a gift card left over from the holidays coupled with running errands. Be mindful when planning to run any necessary errands. Make a plan and save some gas. :)

Thursday – Chicken a la King

Carrots, onions and celery for chicken ala king

Carrots, onions and celery for chicken ala king

There is also some of that beautiful red bell pepper chopped up in there. I also added the traditional jarred red pimentos..but later in the recipe.

Chicken ala King over biscuits

Chicken ala King over biscuits

This was something new I’ve never made before. It was a little labor intensive, but worth it. We decided it’s a favorite and will be added to our meal plans often.

Friday – Leftovers

Saturday – Shepherd’s Pie and salad

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie

This was another recipe adaptation from a triple D episode and was more of a favorite meatloaf recipe topped with a brown gravy, corn and finally mashed potatoes.  We decided we were in need of some comfort food on this lazy Saturday. I also had help in the kitchen which was a nice treat.

I’d say we ate pretty good this week with a nice combination of fresh ingredients and pantry staples.

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