Sometimes it’s just hard to come up with a recipe to feed a large group for breakfast.  One of these recipes could be your answer to that problem.

Veggie Cheese Breakfast Casserole

 

You will need:

1 12-16 ounce package of Country Sausage

2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

9 eggs, beaten

1-2 Cups of fresh veggies, chopped in bite size pieces

[carrots, broccoli, onions, peppers, etc]

If you don’t have fresh, frozen will do but do not use canned. There is too much liquid in canned. Your casserole will not bake good. The bread will become soggy and it will taste terrible.

2 cans of refrigerated crescent rolls

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Crumble and brown the entire package of sausage and pour off any fat.

Coat a 9” x 13” baking dish with a non-stick spray and line it with one package of the crescent rolls. Put the cooked sausage on top of the rolls and top with the cheese.

Add in the veggies, then pour in the eggs and top with the second package of crescent rolls. Bake 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Serve warm with a buttery maple syrup on the side.

Breakfast Bacon Egg Cup

breakfast egg cup

You will need:

A muffin pan

Enough sliced bread to fit one in each muffin hole, crust removed [save the crust]

12 ounce Package of Bacon, cut in half

An egg for each muffin hole

1-2 Cups of Shredded Cheese, your choice

Directions:

Coat each hole in the muffin pan with cooking spray.

Criss cross 2 pieces of bacon in each hole

Press a slice of bread into each hole, to form a pocket

Break and drop an egg into each pocket.

Top with the cheese, then pull the bacon up over the top of the pocket.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until the bacon is

crisp and the egg is done.

Serve with fresh fruit and a warm drink for your complete breakfast.

**Vegetables can also be added to the egg pocket, just remember to keep

them bite size so they will cook in the same temperature.

You can organize one or both of these recipes the night before and be ready to cook breakfast in no time, come morning. 

How do we make it meatless and still enjoy our meal?  The latest food guide at MyPyramid.gov is still based on grain foods, but now it recommends from nine to thirteen servings of fruits and veggies a day along with more servings of legumes, dried beans and peas, lentils and the like. It’s not an impossible task to make it meatless, not if you combine several items in a single dish.

make it meatless

For dinner, it’s easy to make a nutritious meatless casserole with a grain and assorted vegetables. With the exception of soy foods, though, the protein of plant foods is incomplete. So, for good nutritional balance, many casseroles also include an animal protein food, such as eggs. In addition to providing the highest quality protein next to mother’s milk, eggs are nutrient-dense, their nutrient total is high compared to their calorie count.

In Rice, Bean & Veggie Casserole you have one of the best ways to make it meatless, using eggs to bind together a short list of have-on-hand ingredients. You can layer the minimal-prep casserole in almost no time one evening, refrigerate it and pop it into the oven when you arrive home the next day. For the rice base, cook the instant variety or make good use of what’s left over from take-out. With handy bottled salsa, any hotness level your family prefers, a can of beans and corn, all you need to do from scratch is chop some colorful peppers. Simply beat the eggs, then add the shredded cheese before layering it into the casserole. To round out a no-fuss meal, add only a tossed green salad to the flavorful, hearty entree.

Rice, Bean & Veggie Casserole

6 servings

Cooking spray

6 eggs

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese

3 cups cooked rice (1 cup raw)

1 jar (16 oz.) thick and chunky red salsa, divided

1 can (15 oz.) red kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup whole kernel corn (about 3 oz.)

1 cup chopped green, yellow and/or sweet red pepper (about 5 oz. or 1 medium)

Evenly coat 11 x 7 x 2-inch baking pan with spray. Set aside. In medium bowl, beat together eggs and cheese. Stir in rice. Pour into prepared pan. Smooth with back of spoon or gently shake pan to spread rice mixture evenly in pan. Gently spread 1 cup of the salsa over rice mixture. In medium bowl, stir together beans, corn and pepper. Evenly spoon bean mixture over salsa. Drizzle remaining 1 cup salsa over bean mixture.  Add a layer of cheese on the top and place into the oven.

Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven until casserole is puffed and begins to pull away from sides of pan and knife inserted near center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes.

Making it meatless from time to time, will not only save you money but improve your health by incorporating more veggies into your diet.

Nutritional information per serving of 1/6 recipe using kidney beans and red pepper: 334 calories, 10 gm total fat, 226 mg cholesterol, 815 mg sodium, 346 mg potassium, 42 gm carbohydrate, 19 gm protein and 10% or more of the RDI for vitamins A, B12 and C, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, dietary fiber.

Frugal Meals Using A Whole Chicken

When money is tight or you’re just in the mood to cook something you can then turn into a few different delicious frugal meals for the coming days, look no further than a whole chicken and your slow cooker or crock pot.

Chicken is such a versatile meat and once it’s cooked, it’s easy to add it to sauces, casseroles, salads, you name it. It all starts with nothing more than a whole chicken from the grocery store.

frugal meals

Slow Cooking The Chicken

Get out your slow cooker and look around for some veggie scraps, onions, carrots or the likes. It doesn’t take much. All you want is to line the bottom of your slow cooker with a few sliced vegetables so your chicken doesn’t stick. Of course, the vegetables will also add flavor.

This is also, a great time to use up that celery that’s starting to go limp, or that open bag of baby carrots that doesn’t’ look fresh anymore. Slice your onion, break your celery into chunks and toss in your baby carrots. If you’re in the mood for it, add a garlic clove or two to the mix for extra flavor.

Take your chicken out of the bag. Check for the little baggie stuffed inside the chicken with the *neck, liver, gizzards etc. Toss those in your crock pot and rinse your chicken. Pat it dry and lay it breast side up on top of the veggies. Season with salt and pepper.

Close the lid and cook your chicken on high for about 6 hours or on low for 8 to 10 hours. You know it is done when the legs start to pull away from the body.

The chicken will be tender and falling from the bone. You’ll also notice some cooking liquid in the pot. Pull the meat off as best you can, focusing on the large chunks of breast, thigh and leg meat. Set the meat aside, but leave everything else in the slow cooker.

Making Chicken Broth

What makes this a frugal chicken is that we’re going to make use of every little bit, including the bones, skin and bits of meat that are left in the slow cooker along with the veggies. It’s time to turn this into delicious, wholesome chicken broth. You can sip the broth as a hot drink when it’s done or use it as the base for soups, stews, beans or cooking vegetables. This is good stuff and it has a lot more flavor plus nutritional value than the stock you buy at the grocery store.

When you are done pulling the meat off the chicken, add plenty of water to the slow cooker along with a splash of apple cider vinegar if you have it. The vinegar is optional and is there to help leach as many minerals as possible from the bones. Skipping it won’t affect the flavor of your broth.

Turn the slow cooker on high until your mixture comes to a boil, then simmer the broth on low for several hours. The longer you cook it, the more intense the flavor will get. I usually cook it overnight.

Get out a large bowl, pot, or heat-safe pitcher and a strainer. Ladle the finished broth through the strainer. Discard the bones and veggie scraps.

Allow the broth to cool until it is safe to handle, then pour it into containers. Glass jars work well, as do plastic freezer containers. If you plan on freezing your broth, leave some room in the containers when you fill them. You can even pour some of the broth into ice cube trays, freeze them and then use the little cubes of frozen broth when you’re cooking veggies for added flavor and nutrition.

As the broth cools, you’ll notice that it will thicken up and that there is a layer of fat on the top. That’s what good homemade broth is supposed to look like. It has plenty of healthy fat and the main part of the broth has thickened up with the collagen you’ve cooked out of the cartilage of the chicken bones.

If you want low fat chicken broth, set the container in the fridge for a few hours, until the fat rises to the top and solidifies. You can grab the whole solid chunk and remove it from the broth. I usually take out about half of the fat but if you want to keep it, stir it back into the broth, as you are heating the broth for cooking.

Get Creative

Slice and serve of the freshly cooked chicken breast with rice and a salad or some steamed veggies the first night.  After that, it’s time to get creative with your frugal meals.  Remember, By day two you also will have some delicious chicken stock to work with.

Make a batch of chicken and cabbage soup with some of the shredded chicken, a cup of rice, the broth and whatever other vegetables you want to add. I have found that cubed potatoes, corn and green beans work well with this soup.

You can make chicken sandwiches or chicken salad anyone, serve it in tacos or burritos. Add it to your favorite chicken casserole recipe, or make some creamed chicken and pasta. Can any one say multi frugal meals?… 

The broth makes a great base for any type of soup or stew plus you can even cook your dried beans in it for another frugal and nutritious dish.

The next time you see whole chickens on sale, grab up a couple or more. Their possibilities are almost endless.  It’s easy to make 3 or 4 frugal meals from one chicken.

*I normally cook these in a small pot, adding them and their liquid, to the slow cooker when it’s time to make the bone broth. I discard the liver at this time as I do not like the flavor it puts in my cooked broth. But that is up to you if you want to use it or not.

What does Chicken Noodle Soup have to do with a wedding, you might be thinking?  Last week my grandson got married.  He and his new bride did something at their reception that I had never seen before.  They ask some of their family members to make soups for the reception.  My grandson ask me to do his favorite home made Chicken Noodle Soup.

It’s a simple recipe that doesn’t take long to put together in a slow cooker. It’s a soup I have made for him and others several times over the years. I’m going to share the recipe with you, you never know when you might need a memory to share.

Zac’s Chicken Noodle Soup

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You will need:

8 Cups of Chicken Stock

2 Cups of Cooked Chicken, cubed

3 Stalks of Celery, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces

2 Carrots, sliced into 1/4 pieces

1 Medium Onion, diced

1 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Pepper

1/4 Teaspoon Poultry Season

2 Cups of Pasta, I used bow ties but any pasta will do.

Place everything except the pasta into the slow cooker.  Stir to incorporate the ingredients.  Cook on high for one hour then lower the heat to the low setting.  While the mixture is cooking on low, cook your pasta on your stove, as directed on the package, until they are almost done, el dente`.  I have found trying to cook pasta in a slow cooker, will reward you will a gummy mess, most of the time.  So I prefer to cook it on my stove, then drain and add to the slow cooker, stir to well incorporated.  You will want to cook for another 30 minutes on low, allowing the pasta to absorb the Chicken Noodle Soup flavor, then serve while hot.*

*If you have a newer slow cooker, it might have a keep warm setting, if so, place the soup on that setting.  Refrigerate your leftover soup within 2 hours after removing the heat source.

As you can see from the picture, because I was making two gallons, I had to make it in my large soup pot.  If you have a large gathering, you can double the recipe and do like wise.

12 Tips for Soup and Salad Lovers

1. With soup, it is easy to “Cook Once, Eat Twice” (or three times!). Soup is the perfect freezer food, which means leftovers won’t go to waste. Soup will keep in the freezer for a couple months, so don’t hesitate to whip up extra large batches to enjoy now and later.

soup and salad lovers

2. Freeze leftover soup in muffin tins for easy-to-transport single-serve lunch portions.

3. Allow soup to cool overnight in the refrigerator before freezing. Putting hot soup into your freezer can briefly increase the internal temperature of your freezer, which could negatively impact your already frozen items.

4. Don’t add cold milk or cream straight from the refrigerator to your soups while cooking. To prevent curdling, warm the milk and cream up before adding to the simmering soup.

5. Mirepoix is a combination of diced carrots, celery and onion used to add flavor to soups, stocks and broths. The smaller the pieces are cut, the faster they will release their flavor.

6. When making soup, “sweat” aromatics, like onions or garlic, first. Simply sauté these ingredients in a little olive oil or butter until they are soft. This will release their flavors and enhance the final taste of your recipe.

7. Give your soup a chance to cool a bit before adding final seasoning. When soup is boiling hot, it is difficult to tell whether or not it actually needs more salt or other seasonings.

8. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime to broth-based soups before serving to “brighten” up the flavors. Citrus has a natural fresh taste to it that will liven up the other flavors in your soup.

9. Save time cleaning up by making your salad dressing in the same bowl you plan to serve your salad in. Mix up your dressing ingredients and let them sit for a while to give the flavors a chance to meld. Then add the rest of your salad ingredients to the bowl and toss to coat right before serving. If you make more dressing than you need for one salad, simply pour off the excess into another storage container before adding your salad ingredients.

10. When making homemade vinaigrette, add a little Dijon mustard or mayonnaise to emulsify the mixture. This will help hold together the oil and vinegar (or other acidic components) longer.

11. No one likes a soggy salad. Don’t add dressing until right before you serve it to keep your lettuce crisp.

12. It’s important to thoroughly wash lettuce before eating it, but it can be challenging to get it dry enough to hold your dressing. If you eat a lot of salad, a salad spinner is definitely worth the investment.

Ingredients for A Creamy Cheesy Potato Soup

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Potatoes are one of my favorite vegetables. You can do so many things with them, including this wonderful simple soup.

You will need:

4 Cups of Chicken Broth

1 ½ Cup of Whole Milk

2 to 2 ½ Cups of Potatoes, cubed

¼ Cup Celery, thinly sliced

¼ Cup Carrots, thinly sliced

½ Cup Sweet White Onions

¾ Teaspoon of Salt

¼ Teaspoon of White Pepper

4 Ounces of Cream Cheese, room temperature, cut into one inch pieces

1 Tablespoon Corn Starch

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Add the oil to a six quart soup pot, heating it over medium high heat.

When the oil gets hot, add the carrots, onions, and celery. Cook for two – three

minutes while stirring. Turn the heat down to simmer.

Add the chicken broth, potatoes and spices, cooking until the potatoes are

fork tender [about 10 minutes].

Add 1 Cup of the milk, while stirring, to avoid curdling. When the milk has reached the same temperature as the cooking soup, drop in the cream

cheese, allowing it to melt for a couple of minutes before stirring the soup,

once more.

Taste the mixture to be sure you do not need to add more salt or pepper.

If more is needed, do so now.

Add the corn starch and the rest of the milk to a small bowl and mix well.

Slowly pour the mixture into the hot soup, stirring, until the soup thickens. Reduce the heat to warm and allow the soup to cool.

Serve with a good hardy bread or an assortment of crackers.

Options:

[1] Top with your favorite shredded cheese.

[2] Slice a couple green onions and sprinkle on top.

[3] A couple tablespoons of Bacon Bits will add lots of extra flavor.

[4] Add a pinch or two of Red Pepper Flakes to the cooking soup,

to add a little kick to the soup.

[5] Float a pat of butter on top of the hot soup.

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Potatoes are one of my favorite vegetables. You can do so many things with them.  Baked, Fried, or Hashed, they are simply one of the best all around food items.  This wonderful simple soup recipe will delight anyone who eats it, give it a try on a cold Autumn night.

You will need:

4 Cups of Chicken Broth

1 ½ Cup of Whole Milk

2 to 2 ½ Cups of Potatoes, cubed

¼ Cup Celery, thinly sliced

¼ Cup Carrots, thinly sliced

½ Cup Sweet White Onions

¾ Teaspoon of Salt

¼ Teaspoon of White Pepper

4 Ounces of Cream Cheese, room temperature, cut into one inch pieces

1 Tablespoon Corn Starch

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Add the oil to a six quart soup pot, heating it over medium high heat.

When the oil gets hot, add the carrots, onions, and celery. Cook for two – three minutes while stirring. Turn the heat down to simmer.

Add the chicken broth, potatoes and spices, cooking until the potatoes are fork tender [about 10 minutes].

Add 1 Cup of the milk, while stirring, to avoid curdling. When the milk has reached the same temperature as the cooking soup, drop in the cream cheese, allowing it to melt for a couple of minutes before stirring the soup,once more.

Taste the mixture to be sure you do not need to add more salt or pepper.  If more is needed, do so now.

Add the corn starch and the rest of the milk to a small bowl and mix well.

Slowly pour the mixture into the hot soup, stirring, until the soup thickens. Reduce the heat to warm and allow the soup to cool.

Serve with a good hardy bread or an assortment of crackers.

  • Options:

[1] Top with your favorite shredded cheese.

[2] Slice a couple green onions and sprinkle on top.

[3] A couple tablespoons of Bacon Bits will add lots of extra flavor.

[4] Add a pinch or two of Red Pepper Flakes to the cooking soup, to add a little kick to the soup.

[5] Float a pat of butter on top of the hot soup.

The Healthiest Foods You Can Get

The following is a list of the healthiest foods that you can get. This will help you get an idea as to what foods are the best for your body.

Fruits

Apricots

Apricots contain Beta-carotene which helps to prevent radical damage and also helps to protect the eyes. A single apricot contains 17 calories, 0 fat, and one gram of fiber. You can eat them dried or soft.

Mango

A medium sized mango packs 57 MG of vitamin C, which is nearly your entire daily dose. This antioxidant will help prevent arthritis and also boost your immune system.

Cantaloupe

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Cantaloupes are in the top 10 when it comes to eating one of the healthiest foods. They contain 117 GG of vitamin C, which is almost twice the recommended dose. Half a melon contains 853 MG of potassium, which is nearly twice as much as a banana, which helps to lower blood pressure. Half a melon contains 97 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 2 grams of fiber.

Tomato

A tomato can help cut the risk of bladder, stomach, and colon cancers in half if you eat one daily. A tomato contains 26 calories, 0 fat, and only 1 gram of fiber.

Vegetables

Onions

An onion can help to protect against cancer. A cup of onions offers 61 calories, 0 fat, and 3 grams of fiber.

Broccoli

Broccoli can help protect against breast cancer, and it also contains a lot of vitamin C and beta-carotene. One cup of chopped broccoli contains 25 calories, 0 fat, and 3 grams of fiber.

Spinach

Spinach contains carotenoids that can help fend off macular degeneration, which is a major cause of blindness in older people. One cup contains 7 calories, 0 fat, and 1 gram of fiber.

Grains, beans, and nuts

Peanuts

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Peanuts and other nuts can lower your risk of heart disease by 20 percent. One ounce contains 166 calories, 14 grams of fat, and over 2 grams of fiber.

Pinto beans

A half cut of pinto beans offers more than 25 percent of your daily folate requirement, which protects you against heart disease. Half a cup contains 103 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 6 grams of fiber.

Skim milk

Skim milk offers vitamin B2, which is important for good vision and along with Vitamin A could improve allergies. You also get calcium and vitamin D as well. One cup contains 86 calories, o fat, and 0 fiber.

While Skin Milk is in the healthiest foods category for the younger generation, as we age we need a little more fat in our diet, so using regular or 2% milk in your diet is ok, too.

Seafood

Salmon

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All cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna are excellent sources of omega 3 fatty acids, which help to reduce the risk of cardiac disease. A 3 ounce portion of salmon contains 127 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 0 fiber.

Crab

Crab is a great source of vitamin B12 and immunity boosting zinc. A 3 ounce serving of crab offers 84 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 0 fiber.

With just a few changes in our diets, we can assure ourselves that we are doing our best to eat the healthiest foods from the garden or grocery stores.

If you’re looking for a meatless meal that satisfies, look no further. This isn’t an exact recipe, it lets you choose your favorite vegetables, herbs and spices.  Instead it is meant to inspire you for your next veggie only meal.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Then open your refrigerator and see what is in the vegetable draw.  Choose your favorites and begin chopping up some veggies.  Next add some herbs, such as, Basil, Cilantro, Oregano or mint.  Drizzle with Olive Oil, then lightly toss.  Add a pinch or two or my favorite spices, salt and pepper, lightly mix to mingle the flavors.  Using two pieces of foil, [or as many as you need] divide the vegetables and place on the foil, folding them into small pouches.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes for a hot crunchy texture or 35 minutes for a completely cooked meal. 

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In this photo, we have pattypans, peppers, onions and tomatoes with basil, parsley and oregano.  You can also add, fresh mushrooms, eggplant, garlic and plenty of other veggies.  Most will work well in this little quick and easy [no] recipe meatless meal.

Take care when opening the pouch as steam can burn fingers and noses, if gotten too close.  The aroma will be amazing but don’t stop there, add a drizzle of your favorite balsamic reduction or soy sauce, then serve over rice, pasta, Quinoa or just have it by itself.  With all the flavors and texture of this meatless meal you will not miss the meat at all.

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If you prefer your food grilled, this [no] recipe can be done on your grill, also.  Just be sure to use one of the vegetable baskets made just for grilling so your chopped veggies will not fall through the grill while cooking.  Complete the cooking before adding the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar or Olive oil to the hot vegetables.  Toss to incorporate the flavors before serving. Serve with some slices of warmed french bread that has been sprinkled with Parmesan Cheese for a meal to remember.

 

Most families have an enormous amount of food waste.  Take a look at your neighbors garbage and the amount thrown away would make some people literally cry.  But, you can eliminate most if not all of your food waste by following these tips.

1. Plan Your Meals – Don’t go shopping without a plan. If you know what meals you want to cook based on the weekly grocery store flyers, what you have on hand, and what’s in season, you’ll waste less.

2. Freeze Leftovers – When you have leftovers, even small amounts, put them away in the freezer. Even small amounts of cooked veggies or instance, can be used later to make veggie soup.

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3. Cook the Right Serving Amounts – If you’re cooking for two, consider cutting the recipe in half to avoid waste. Alternatively, plan ahead to save leftovers as homemade TV dinners for eating later.

4. Buy the Weird Veggies – Check out your grocer to see when they sell the strange shaped or “ugly” produce. This not only costs less but by buying you help eliminate the grocery store’s waste.

5. Use the Old First – As you put food away, put new behind the old so that you make sure to use the old items before you use the new items. For items that are shelf stable until opening, like mayonnaise, keep out of the fridge until the old is used.

6. Have a Leftover Day – At least once a week, have a day where everyone only eats leftovers. This is a great way to use up all the food that you have prepared. You can heat it all up and serve it buffet style.

7. Conduct Inventory Regularly – Before shopping, always check what you have available and what is getting ready to expire so that you can create dishes using those ingredients that you already have on hand.

8. Use Scraps Wisely – When you have food scraps there are things you can do with it, such as use it to make compost, or create broths.  Even your leftover fresh veggies can be turned into a flavor filled broth for making your next batch of soup.

9. Learn Proper Storage Techniques – There is a right way, and a wrong way, a right place, and a wrong place to store each item that you purchase. Do your research and learn how to store everything correctly to get the most use out of it.

10. Preserve Your Own – Can it, pickle it, or freeze it if you realize you’re not going to have time to eat it before it goes bad. For example, fermented cabbage is an excellent way to use up cabbage that is getting close to expiring.  A simple pickling will save it for later use.  This is also true of most fresh vegetables, [cucumbers, cauliflower, carrots, etc.] thus cutting down on your food waste.

11. Eat Expired Food – Most food has expiration dates that aren’t really when the food “goes bad” but rather when it must be sold by. Most foods are fine for at least 7 days past the expiration or sell-by date.

With a little planning and thought you can eliminate most food waste. If somehow you still end up with extra food because you couldn’t say no to a sale, you can save the day by donating it to your local food bank.