Cheap and Easy? Dried Beans and the Slow Cooker

Canned beans are a more frugal protein source than meat. But if you are looking to cut your grocery budget to the bone, dried beans can definitely help you out! Not to mention, they are healthy and take up a minuscule amount of pantry space.

But dried beans take forever to soak and cook! Nobody has time for that!

You would think that dried beans would be much less convenient than canned, but you would be wrong! I’ll explain how to make pounds of prepared beans with moments of hands on effort.

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blood orange salad with honey mustard vinaigrette

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette Dressing Recipe

One of my “goal” recipes to master for 2016 was a good Vinaigrette. I love this Honey Mustard Vinaigrette recipe, made with red wine vinegar, brown mustard and olive oil goodness. The garlic gives it a nice pungent bite so you don’t need too much dressing to get great flavor on your greens.


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Broccoli Salad

broccoli salad recipeThis is a repost of one of my favorite recipes. I never did get to add photos to the original post because I usually mix this up late at night the night before a family gathering, rush out the door first thing in the morning, and it gets gobbled up before photos can be snapped. Be ready to share the recipe if you bring this to a pot luck – you will be asked for it!

You won’t get too much competition in the vegetable area when attending a pot luck. Lots of people bring a potato dish, or a dessert, or a pasta salad. No one brings broccoli. That’s a fact.

I bring this salad to almost every family gathering I attend. It gets gobbled up because its chalk full of mayonnaise… and bacon. Everybody likes bacon. Your great aunt, your father-in-law, your little cousin. Everybody.

Broccoli Salad:

1-1/2 lb. fresh broccoli tips cut into bite size pieces – if your broccoli has large trunks you can peel off tough outer layer with a vegetable peeler and shred the trunks as well.

1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 c. of chopped scallions

1/2 c. raisins


3/4 c. mayonnaise

1/2 c. sugar

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Mix up the dressing and pour over the salad ingredients. Serve cold.

This tends to get wetter if the salad is stored mixed with the dressing for a day or so. If you want to make it ahead you can store the dressing in a resealable container like a mason jar and chill the salad ingredients in a separate bowl. I usually make the bacon the day of the event and keep the bacon crumbles separate in a zip top baggie until just before serving, so it is still crispy.

Also, I like to make the bacon in the oven. It takes a little longer, but you don’t have to  stand around and watch it while it cooks!

What is your favorite pot luck side dish?

broccoli salad

Super Easy Cornbread

super easy cornbread

This is one of my favorite go-to sides. It goes with everything I tell you! Make it for fourth of July cook outs. Your friends and family will thank you!

Super Easy Cornbread

9-12 servings

1 box jiffy cornbread mix

1/2 box of yellow cake mix

2 eggs

2/3 cup milk or almond milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9″ x 9″ casserole dish.  Mix together eggs, milk , jiffy and cake mix until combined. Allow the batter to sit for a few minutes while the oven finishes preheating. Pour into the casserole dish and bake for 22-27 minutes or until golden brown on top and a toothpick or fork comes out clean. Cut into 9 or 12 squares and serve.

cornbread recipe

The Best Cornbread Muffins

easy cornbread muffins

It is now unofficially summer and for summer cookouts and pot lucks cornbread muffins are where its at. So, of course, I’m bringing these muffins to Fiesta Friday. Also, for breakfast lunch and dinner cornbread muffins are where its at. As if  all of that is not enough, this recipe is…

1. Supper easy

2. It only has four ingredients

3. It’s super tasty.

4. All of the ingredients can be purchased at Aldi.

I think we call all agree cornbread muffins are awesome!

The Best Cornbread Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins

1 box jiffy cornbread mix

1/2 box of yellow cake mix

2 eggs

2/3 cup milk or almond milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tins with muffin papers or spray tins liberally with cooking spray.  Mix together eggs, milk , muffin and cake mix until combined. Allow the batter to sit for a few minutes while the oven finishes preheating. Fill the muffin tins and bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown on top and a toothpick or fork comes out clean.

cornbread muffins

My New Healthy Habit, Veggie Packets

My new healthy habit: Veggie Packets

I haven’t been doing much creative cooking lately. I am just sticking to old stand by’s and cooking double batches just to keep up this week.

I ran my first race of the year last week, a quarter marathon – so fun! I plan on running a half marathon in the fall. which will be my third half marathon. I used to just run to finish, with no particular time or goal in mind. But since I did my first full marathon last year I am darn sure I can finish. I am spicing it up by trying to improve my time this year.

The other thing I would like to improve in my race training is my nutrition. I could really use a tune up there! And if it results a pound or two of fat loss then all the better! And if that pound or two of fat lost helps my speed, even better still!

Not that I run to lose weight. I didn’t lose any while training for the marathon last year. But really, who cares! I ran a marathon. (BOO-YAH! 🙂 ) Because working out is about FEELING good not LOOKING good, right?

But I digress. Whether you are trying to tune up your nutrition for a race, or trying to get more healthy foods in your diet just because – I have found this works out great. Having easy access to lots of vegetables for snacking makes it more likely that they will get eaten, just because they are convenient.


When the veggies come home from the grocery store I trim, wash  and prep them into bite sized pieces. I fill up enough zip top baggies with mixed veggies to last for the week for mine and hubbies lunches. Any remaining prepped veggies go into larger bags for snacking, adding to pastas salads etc.


I buy all the vegetables at Aldi. It’s cheaper than the “regular” grocery store and I really like their produce. We like baby carrots, celery, mushrooms, cauliflower, sweet red and yellow peppers and radishes. When they look good I like cherry tomatoes too. I know I should save the celery scraps for making chicken broth (frugal fail on my part) and whole carrots would be cheaper, but lately our Aldi hasn’t carried whole carrots. Oh well!

The trimmings go into a garbage bowl I keep next to the cutting board so I can make one trip to the compost pile for a whole week’s worth of veggie trimmings (bonus!).

veggie bowl

Now what to dip them in?

I used to use ranch dressing as a dip, which is fine. But since I’m trying to eat healthier, I switched over to salsa as a dip. I have to say I might like it as much or more than ranch. I love spicy food!

Are you trying to eat healthier? Do you have any tips and tricks?

I almost forgot… I’m bringing veggies to Fiesta Friday. Hopefully no one minds!

Awesome Pizza Dough and Pizza Rolls

Homemade pizza dough and pizza rolls from scratchFirst off Happy Friday! I’m linking this post up over a Fiesta Friday, one of my favorite link ups. I found this pizza dough recipe last week and I already made it a second time. I know it will be on regular rotation now because pizza dough is so versitile

I was thinking about making some portable food for a road trip last weekend. I stumbled upon this pizza dough recipe over at eat live run and kind of free handed the rest to make pizza rolls. Pizza rolls are great for car trips because they are portable and not very messy to eat. AND packing a meal ahead of time means no stops for fast food, not that I’m an anti-fast food snob or anything. I’ve been doing a lot of traveling for work lately, which means long drives and long hours, which means subsisting on clif bars or burgers and fries from a drive through. So for road trips on my personal time, I’ll pass on the fries for now! This new fast food attitude does have the added benefit of saving money, and probably being a little healthier.

Homemade pizza dough and pizza rolls

Pizza Dough

Adapted from My Favorite Pizza Dough @ Eat Live Run

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup oil (original recipe calls for olive oil, regular cooking oil works as well)
  • 1 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon yeast
  • 2 tsp sea salt

Mix up all of the ingredients in a stand mixer fitting with a dough hook until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. This only takes a couple of minutes. I love how soft this dough is, and how it isn’t sticky or hard to handle. Once the dough is done kneading cover loosely and allow to rise for about an hour.

Pizza Rolls

  • One pizza dough
  • marinara or pizza sauce
  • cheese ( I like a melting cheese like cheddar or Monterrey jack, and Parmesan)
  • garlic powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • “Toppings” (optional)

Divide pizza dough ball into 8 smaller balls. Press into 6″ circles with your fingers then tug into rectangles roughly 4″ x 8″. I can’t be bothered with rolling pins! Honestly, I don’t own a rolling pin. If I really need to roll something out I just grab a straight sided wine bottle, which always gets quizzical looks from my husband, but I digress.

Spread roughly 2 tablespoons of sauce per rectangle over the dough, avoiding the edges. Sprinkle with garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Sprinkle with as much cheese as you like. Sprinkle with a scant amount of toppings, if using.

Homemade pizza dough and pizza rolls

Fold each rectangle in thirds then pinch closed the open ends and fold under. Place on a silpat sheet on a cooking tray. I found that four rolls would fit on each cookie sheet.

Bake at 425 for around 20 minutes or until lightly browned and the internal temperature reaches at least 190 degrees F.

Homemade pizza dough and pizza rolls

Do you stop for fast food on road trips or plan ahead and pack a meal?