Beans and rice are nice

beans and rice recipe

Everyone should have one. A household absolutely shouldn’t be asked to run without it. A great beans and rice recipe, that is! Beans and rice are cheap, healthy and a wonderful comfort food.

This beans and rice recipe is simple, consisting of only pantry ingredients. I make it every week for my husbands lunches. Left overs are used as a side to accompany any Tex-mex dishes that are on the dinner menu for the week.

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Cheap Super Bowl Party Food

This is a repost of my super bowl menu from two years ago. I still love and use these recipes! I hope they inspire you when you are preparing your menu for Super Bowl Sunday. Go Broncos!

I’m having a few friends over for the big game. They are bringing over chips and salsa so I am planning a list of goodies that are complimentary flavors.

Super Cheap Super bowl Menu:

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Get out of the kitchen – Turkey pineapple skewers

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If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. It is warming up here so my kitchen is closed. I’m trying to cook as many meals as possible on the grill, in the microwave, or in the slow cooker. I’m also trying to eat healthier (and who isn’t). I was excited to find turkey kielbasa and $1.29 pineapples at Aldi last week. Healthy and cheap, YAY! It’s time to put them to good use, eh?

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Turkey and Pineapple Skewers:

Serves 2

– 1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled and cut into large chunks

– 1/2 package turkey kielbasa, cut into medallions

– 1 red pepper, cored and cut into large chunks

 

Sweet red peppers, and pineapple pieces pair wonderfully with savory smokey turkey kielbasa medallions. Just skewer and grill over medium heat until the turkey is charred and cooked through. Serve with brown rice, cooked ahead of time when it wasn’t so stinken hot, and you have a real dinner!

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What about you? How are you beating the heat?

Not Your Mama’s Sloppy Joes

not your mamas sloppy joes

When I was a kid it seems like a disliked every cheap and easy dinner. Sloppy Joes were no exception to that rule. My revulsion to the orange loose meat sandwiches lasted straight into adulthood. However, Sloppy Joes are popular party fare, so I am bringing them to Fiesta Friday.

When I was a child I may have tried the canned stuff once or twice but I have no recollection of what it tastes like… Now that I’m grown, I can make Sloppy Joes into whatever I want them to be. I wanted my Joes to be meaty and spicy. Savory and not too sweet, too tangy or sour. And one more thing — the sauce must not be orange! Luckily the concoction I created resulted in a nice brick red sauce. Whew. Dodged that bullet!

I started out with a base sauce including a lot of the ingredients in Sloppy Joe recipes  – meat, onions, peppers, tomato sauce, tomato paste (I couldn’t bring myself to use ketchup or canned tomato soup), vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. The resulting sauce smelled tomato-y and sour. Not what I was going for. So I added some more seasonings and some spicy elements and ended up being thrilled with the results. Meaty? Check. Savory? Check. Spicy awesomeness? Check, Check! I think this one is going to make my regular dinner rotation.

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Sloppy Joes:

Makes 8 sandwiches

– 1 lb ground beef

– 1 8 oz can tomato sauce

-1/2 6 oz can tomato paste

– 1 small onion diced

– 1 red pepper diced fine

– 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar

– 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

– 1 Tablespoon soy sauce

– 3 Tablespoons barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)

– 2 Tablespoons chilli powder

– 1 tablespoon onion powder

– 1 teaspoon garlic powder

– 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Start by cooking the ground beef over medium low heat. Add the diced onions and peppers and turn the heat back to low. Cook until the beef is browned then add the sauce ingredients. This sauce isn’t seriously spicy but it does have some heat. If you want to have a milder sauce cut back on the black pepper. Simmer over low heat until thickened to the desired consistency. Serve on hamburger buns.

Whole wheat hamburger buns were on sale at Aldi this week (45 cents for an 8 pack, woop woop!). I think the hearty whole wheat buns held up really well to the wet sauce, which was awesome.

Have you reinvented any dishes you didn’t like when you were a child? How did it go?

Most importantly — Did you bring them to a party?

 

8 Uses for Mason Jars

 

8 Uses for Mason JarsI love mason jars!  They are the swiss army knife of containers and they have like a million uses beyond canning. I don’t have the guts to try canning, but that doesn’t stop me of having a cabinet full of mason jars. Here are a few reasons why.

Measuring Cups:

I love that mason jars have measurement markings on the side. The hashes on my jars are in 2 fluid oz. increments. 2 oz. = 1/4 Cup. I know I have 2 cup and 1 cup jars. This is super useful for cooking when I have dry and wet goods to measure. Like when I’m making rice, I can measure water in one jar and rice in the other. If I use my one real measuring cup the rice bits stick to the wet cup and that really annoys me. I don’t know why…

Store Dry Goods:

Granola, beans, rice, lentils, dried herbs and spice mixes (like DIY taco seasoning) all store very well in mason jars. And see how cute they are?

granola

 

easy diy taco seasoning

Store leftovers and make ahead meals:

Mason jars are also great containers for refrigerated leftovers and make ahead meals. They are a great replacement for plastic zip lock or Tupperware containers. There’s no need to try and find a specific lid for a specific container. If you somehow lose all of the lids for a certain size of jar, reorder them on Amazon.

Freeze soups and sauces:

One of my co workers let me know that you can freeze mason jars. This is life changing! I can make a huge batch of soup or chilli and freeze single serving sized jars for later. The frozen jars go in lunches to be reheated during the day. Since the jars are glass, tomato based foods don’t stain them. No more orange plastic food containers! Yay!

I also froze many jars of homemade salsa verde I made from my tomato bumper crop last summer. Supper yummy!

salsa verde

Super Cute Soap Containers:

I haven’t made these myself yet but I think they are so pretty. So if someone wants to make these for my birthday… (hint, hint).

mason jar soap dispenser

Via the frugal homemaker

 

Functional Decorations:

Mason jars can also multi task as vases, candle holders (even make candles in the jars if you are super crafty), and utensil containers. They can pretty much hold any thing-a-ma-bob you can think of.

glittervase

Via the sweetest occasion

floating candle

Via emma line bride

Single serving cheap and healthy Greek yogurt:

I purchase unflavored Greek yogurt in a large container, which is way cheaper than the single serve cups. Plain Greek yogurt can be pretty sour so I flavor it with a tablespoon of jelly, jam or honey. This still has way less sugar than the pre-flavored Greek yogurt and there are no weird chemically ingredients, depending on the jam. The one cup sized mason jars are the perfect single serving size, so we can have flavored yogurt in our packed lunches during the week.

Drinking glasses and ready made party drinks:

Homemade lemonade looks ten times cuter in a mason jar. If you are planning a party make the drinks and cocktails ahead of time, and lid them up, and store them in a bucket of ice until you need them.

mason jars on ice

Via tea and cookies blog

mason-jar-lemonade

Via Steve the bartender

This post was featured on the Fabulously Frugal Thursday linkup!

A Life in Balance

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.

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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.

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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?