This is the time of year to try new recipes of chilis, soups, and beans. I love to throw something in the crockpot and not have to spend hours in the kitchen. Fall brings about a desire to try something new. Yesterday while I was perusing the shelves at Harris Teeter I saw bags of beans. The one labeled “15 Bean Soup” caught my eye. I decided to pick up the bag and bring it home, but upon reading the suggested recipe I knew I needed to make things a little more interesting.
On a side note, I’m blogging this recipe not just for your benefit, but for mine as well. I can’t tell you how many times I browse my blog and go ‘Oh yeah, I haven’t made that in a while!’
If you like your food very flavorful, you might want to use twice as many seasoning than listed below. I tend not to measure so these are probably conservative measurements.
Check out my new soup bowls. I have been wanting a set of new soup bowls for a long time but haven’t been able to find what I wanted (and was willing to pay). Hubby and I were in Sam’s Club a few weeks ago and I saw these bowls. They were $15 for 4 bowls. They weren’t terribly expensive but since we had so much other stuff to purchase that day, I just couldn’t bring myself to put them in the cart. While I was in line, hubby left and came back with the bowls. I’m glad he did.
- 1 lb bag of 15 bean soup
- 1 onion diced
- 1 tbsp. oil
- 3 large cloves of minced garlic
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp. lime or lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
- 1 cube chicken bouillon
- 1 28 oz can tomato purree or petite diced tomatoes
- 1/2 lb sliced ham or smoked sausage
Soak beans in water overnight. Drain, rinse, and set aside. Saute diced onions in oil for 5-7 minutes until onions are soft.
In a crockpot, add all of the ingredients listed above, including the soaked beans and cooked onions. I also added the seasoning packet that came with the beans. Cover beans with water (I think I used two of the tomato sized cans full of water). Cook in the crockpot on high for 4-5 hours or until beans are tender. Serve with corn bread.
Whenever I have ham for supper I freeze the leftovers and use it in soaps and casseroles. The leftover ham made this a very inexpensive recipe. The bag of beans was about $1.60. The tomatoes were buy 2 get 3 free. I ended up making a big pot of 15 bean soup for about $2.50. There is also enough left to use for tomorrow’s lunch. Yummy!
This morning I decided to stay home from church. Anyone that knows me, knows that I normally don’t do this. I started feeling a little yucky yesterday from what I’m sure is seasonal allergies. I LOVE fall but am not particularly thrilled with the allergy issues that come with each season change. I took two Benadryl last night and I think I had a little bit of a Benadryl hangover this morning. I was grouchy and sensitive to noise. When I got up in the middle of the night to potty (yes, I am a teacher so I use the word potty), I ran into the wall in my bedroom. Ahem . . . Stop laughing! Ok, go ahead. haha. My nose is still a little sore.
After my family left I decided to enjoy some quiet time on the couch. I’m all snug with my afghan and sole custody of the remote. As I was lying here and trying to enjoy the thought of nothing to do except nap, I had the dreaded feeling that I needed to have a meal ready for my family when they returned home this afternoon.
What could I cook that is fast and most importantly EASY so that I can get back to the couch? I suddenly remembered that I have precooked hamburger in the freezer. When ground beef goes on sale, I like to buy some extra and precook it to freeze. It comes in very handy for chili, spaghetti, Manwich, and other meals. It sure helps speed up the cooking process on weeknights.
Below are pictures of what I used. There are two pictures since I forgot a few things in the first picture.
To make things as low cost as possible, I use the stockpile method. This is where I stock up on things my family uses when they are at rock bottom prices. If I remember correctly, the beans were 2/$1 at Harris Teeter and the corn was 2/$1 at Piggly Wiggly. I usually buy a large container of minced garlic from Sams Club or Walmart. The large container of taco seasoning was purchased at Sams. The frozen green chilis were a close out clearance item from Harris Teeter. I was excited to get these. Green chilis are normally $1-1.40 per can. I got this large container for only $1. I purchased two of them for my freezer. I used about 2 tbsp. of green chilis and a quart jar of my canned tomatoes in place of using Rotel tomatoes. As mentioned above, the ground beef was purchased on sale, cooked, and frozen. Years ago when I was staying at home, I might already have precooked beans in the freezer. This is definitely a money saver, but as Sweet Brown says, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”.
I don’t remember the exact cost of everything pictured, but I would estimate it to be around $6-7 for a large crockpot full of taco chili. This will probably be enough for two meals or one meal and some lunches this week. Of course, we’ll top it with sour cream and cheese and serve it with tortilla chips. This will put our cost right around $5 per meal, which is a nice target price. This chili also freezes well.
For more instructions on making this chili, click on the recipe for taco soup/taco chili. I call it whichever comes to mind first. This is not an exact recipe. I use different kinds of beans sometimes. Feel free to modify it to your liking.
The beginning of school is exhausting! It is the busiest time of the year for me. Even experienced teachers that have been teaching the same grade level for many years are at school late each night. This is my second consecutive year in first grade. Although it is a bit easier this year, there is still lots to do!
Last week I came home from work and had a prepattied meatloaf waiting for me in the refrigerator. This was something I had made during the summer when I had a little more time on my hands. I only had to prepare mashed potatoes and green beans while the meatloaf cooked in the oven.
I have been on the lookout for some easy weeknight meals that are also inexpensive. While at Sam’s Club I noticed that they had a 2 lb. roll of Jimmy Dean sausage for only $5. I decided to pick some up so that I could premake sausage balls for the freezer.
I simply mixed 2 lbs. of sausage with 2 cups of baking mix such a Bisquick, and 1 pound of shredded cheddar cheese. Mix the sausage and baking mix together first until well mixed and then add the cheese and mix together. If you are only using 1 pound of sausage, use 1 cup of baking mix and 8 oz of cheese. Some recipes call for 3 cups of baking mix per pound of sausage. I found this to be way too bready for our family’s taste. Make these however you choose; the recipe is very adaptable.
After mixing up the ingredients, I rolled up the mixture in small balls. Normally I would put them on a cookie sheet and bake them. Since I was freezing them, I put them on parchment paper. I popped them in the freezer for 30 minutes or so and then put them in a Ziploc freezer bag and into the freezer for later use.
Quick freezing the sausage balls is not necessary. Some people simply put them into Ziploc bags. I chose to freeze them first so that they wouldn’t stick together.
When you’re ready for the sausage balls, put as many as you need into the refrigerator to thaw. You could probably cook them from frozen. I’ve never done it though.
Spray your pan with cooking span and bake them at 350F for 20 minutes or so, or until brown. I like mine a little crispy.
Sausage balls can be eaten hot or cold. I have taken them out on a boat ride for an easy on-the-go lunch. You can serve them as appetizers, at a baby or bridal shower, or as part of a meal. I also put them in my children’s lunches to give them some variety. They are very versatile.
What is your favorite freezer friendly meal?
I had six brown bananas sitting on the counter in the fruit bowl. That is not a normal occurrence in our home but last week was busy. We had a weekend marriage conference at church and my parents had the kids. Hubby and I enjoyed some date time and so no one was here to eat the bananas.
I try to never let bananas go to waste. I usually make banana bread with them.
This weekend I saw Christy’s banana bread recipe on her website, Southern Plate. I have no trouble trying something new so I decided to do so.
I used the six bananas to make a double batch of muffins. I ended up freezing 28 muffins for later use. These will come in handy for breakfasts or snacks.
Please overlook this horrible picture. I was in a hurry to put these into the freezer and did not realize how bad the picture looked until later. And why does the meatloaf look yellow? I have no idea.
My family enjoys eating meatloaf but there is a part of it that I do not like — I do not like touching the raw meat. It is so cold and when you mix all of those ingredients together it feels slimy. Yuck!
A few years ago when ground beef went on sale, I decided that I would premix some meatloaf and put it into freezer containers. If I remember correctly, I premixed five meatloaves. A few days before I needed one I simply placed the container in the refrigerator to thaw. Then I slid the meatloaf from the freezer container into my meatloaf pan. It made such a huge difference in meal time preparation.
Unfortunately, my summer is almost over. Soon I will be busy working late, grading papers, working on lesson plans, etc and taking care of my family.
Recently, I remembered how easy it was to have the meatloaf premixed and so I have been looking for a good deal on ground beef. Food Lion had their ground chuck on sale this week for $2.49/lb so I picked up about 8 pounds.
Due to an unexpected eye doctor’s appointment today (there was a cancellation and we got a call to fill in) I wasn’t able to patty up all of the meatloaves but I did two of them. I have a usual meatloaf recipe that I use but decided I would search the internet for a different once. I decided to try Paula Deen’s barbeque meatloaf recipe. I ended up using a little over 2 lbs of meat so I just kind of guesstimated how much of each ingredient to use. Most of the recipes I make are just to use as a guide anyway.
I have some more ground beef in the refrigerator that needs to be used this evening so I will probably patty up a few more tonight.
It is nice knowing that I have banana muffins and meatloaf prepared in the freezer. I hope to prepare a few more freezer meals before school starts back.
What is your favorite freezer meal to prepare?
Last week my dad went to the farmer’s and picked tomatoes. I was fortunate enough to be given 49 tomatoes. I have canned tomatoes, salsa, and spaghetti sauce before but the one that gets eaten the fastest is the salsa. I decided since I would be going back to work soon that I would first focus on canning salsa. It’s much easier to come home from work and pop open a can of salsa to use with your dinner than it is to pop open a can of tomatoes and make the salsa to go with your dinner.
One bunch of cilantro, 2-3 onions, 2 jalapenos, and 17 tomatoes (plus the garlic, salt, etc) yielded 7 pints and 1 quart. I haven’t canned in a few years so I am out of practice. It took a few hours to make all of this. This is going to be delicious though!
Last night while I was canning I had an accident. I put a jar into the water and the water splashed up and burned my face. I jumped back quickly so it could have been much worse. I am thankful but in pain. Prayers are appreciated.
Have you ever canned salsa?
Have you ever made something and it was so wonderful that you didn’t want to share? That happened to me earlier this month. I hadn’t made fruit pizza in a few years. Since summer is here I had purchased some kiwis, strawberries, peaches and such on sale. Suddenly I thought it would be a good idea to make a fruit pizza. I was pleasantly surprised at how great it tasted. How could I have forgotten?
Red strawberries, orange mandarin oranges, yellow peaches, yellow pineapple, green kiwis, and blue blueberries make the fruit pizza an attractive item on any food table. It is such a refreshing treat on hot summer days. And I’m certainly not going to complain that it is so easy to prepare.
Here’s the easy recipe:
- 1 roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
- 1 package cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- various fruit – kiwis, strawberries, blueberries, mandarin oranges, etc.
Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 12 inch pizza pan with with cooking spray. (I couldn’t find my round pizza pan so I used a rectangular shaped one.) Remove cookie dough from package. Press the dough evenly in the pan to create a crust. Bake crust for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. It may be a little puffy but go by the color. The puffiness will settle when it cools. Cool the crust completely, for at least 30 minutes.
In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until thoroughly mixed and fluffy. Spread the mixture over the cookie dough crust. Arrange the fruit over the crust. Refrigerate until chilled. Slice and serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.
*Money saving tips: To save money on this recipe, make your own sugar cookie dough. Use coupons and sales to purchase the cookie dough. Many times there will be Pillsbury coupons in the paper and it’s pretty easy to find it on sale.
Have you ever had fruit pizza?
Oh goodness. Another week is here. Instead of wondering day to day what we will be eating, I guess I should make a plan. I don’t like to plan meals but it does make the week easier.
Sunday – fish tacos, Mexican rice, Mexican style squash (Hubby made this up and it was yummy!), chips and homemade salsa
Monday – Italian sausage soup (northern beans, zucchini, carrots, Italian sausage, tomatoes, etc)
Very hearty and good during this rainy weather.
Tuesday – Slow Cooker Tex Mex Chicken Tacos, refried beans (also using up the leftover Mexican rice and salsa)
I need to take a picture of this for the website!
Wednesday – breakfast
Thursday – Birthday girl’s choice
Happy Birthday Alligator Girl!
Friday – hotdogs with chili, baked beans, and potatoes
Saturday – Indian food
It’s been a few years since I have made Naan bread. I’m thinking of trying it out again and making some for the freezer too.
What’s on your menu?
Buying a store bought cake is not something that I normally do. Store bought cakes are so expensive and I find that homemade cakes taste better. Homemade cakes also offer a personal touch to the event.
When my children were very young, I was very fortunate that my mom would make their birthday cakes for me. Here is a Cars Movie cake that my mom made for my son’s third birthday.
My son wanted a Lightning McQueen cake for his birthday. I looked around in the stores and tried to figure out what I was going to do. Then I decided to buy the car figurines from the toy section. At $12 for three cars, I thought it was a bit pricey but it was cheaper than buying a cake and then at least he would have the cars to play with later.
First we started with a 9×13 sheet cake we made. If I remember correctly, we chose chocolate, but any flavor will do. We iced the cake with homemade white icing. Since I had a Lightning McQueen car that had mud painted on the side, we thought it would be neat to create a mud scene on the cake with chocolate icing. We even smeared the icing a little to make it look like Lightning McQueen slid through the mud.
Next, we dyed some of the icing green and used it to pipe grass on the cake. My mom used the rest of the brown icing for the border.
Finally, we placed the other two cars on the cake. My husband looked online and found a Radiator Springs sign to print. He taped it to two toothpicks and inserted it into the cake as a sign.
I thought this was a pretty cute cake and it wasn’t hard at all. I don’t have any cake decorating experience and I feel that I could recreate this cake myself. Sometimes all it takes is looking around for inspiration to trigger ideas.
Do you enjoy making your own cakes?
images (c) Karen Weideman
Back in 2010, I showed you the teddy bear luau cupcakes that I made for my children’s pool party. They were cute, easy to make, and way cheaper than a store bought cake. The do-it-yourself luau cupcakes have been a top read each month since then so I thought I would show you the ones I made in 2011.
I was a little hesitant to show these because they’re not as cute or creative as the teddy bear luau cupcakes. I finally gave in to the idea that we’re all in need of different ideas, no matter how easy they are. Alligator Girl had her first sleepover and since there were just a few girls and no adults I didn’t have the pressure to produce something anything time consuming. These cupcakes were super fast and went along with the pool party/luau theme. They also tasted great.
As you can see from looking at the pictures, there are a few different styles of cupcakes. I mostly used pink and orange to decorate with but I also had a can of rainbow chip icing in the cabinet. Most kids like rainbow chip, so I used that too.
I put piping on some of the cupcakes. I found the paper toppers at the dollar store. You could probably find some cupcake toppers at an arts and crafts store or party supply store.
As you can see, these are nothing extravacant. They are simple, easy, and cute. They are perfect for a girls’ luau party sleep over.
I attended a baby shower and they had some really cute pacifier favors and pink confetti spread across the table for decoration. I thought the pacifier favors were so cute (and inexpensive) that I had to share them with you. The candy pacifiers simply consist of two Lifesaver candies and a jelly bean that are held together by frosting or melted chocolate.
You will need:
- Lifesavers (These are made from peppermint Lifesavers.)
- royal frosting or melted white chocolate
- miniature jelly beans (probably Jelly Bellies)
- Unwrap your Lifesavers and set aside.
- If you are using chocolate then you will need to melt it. Follow the instructions on the package for melting the chocolate. Please note that you should be using chocolate candy that will harden after it dries. This is the kind that is sold in most craft stores or in the cake decorating section of Walmart.
- Put a small dab of chocolate or frosting in the center of some of the Lifesavers. To make your finished project more attractive you should make sure that the Lifesaver words are facing the handle and that the jelly bean side is plain. For best results, only work with a few Lifesavers at a time.
- Attach the second Lifesaver to the first. The second Lifesaver should be on its side so that it acts as a pacifier handle. It will make a “T” shape. Hold together for a few seconds to allow icing or chocolate to set.
- As you complete these steps, set them aside to dry. After they have dried add the ribbon to the pacifier handle. The ribbon should be about four inches long.
- Add a small dab of frosting to the other side of the lifesaver (the plain side) and attach the jelly bean. Let these dry or harden. You may have to hold the jelly bean onto the Lifesaver for a minute until it sets.
You may find that you want to make the pacifier handles first, attach the jelly beans, and then let the whole thing dry before adding the ribbon. Feel free to modify the instructions to meet your personal preference.
Uses: These candy pacifiers can be spread around the tables for decoration or placed on a cake. You can put them in a bowl on the tables or spread them around a centerpiece or the base of the cake. Put them in small candy boxes and send them home with your guests. You could also have the ribbon personalized with your baby’s name. There are many uses for them.
Money saving tips: You know that I am all about saving money. Save your craft store coupons to purchase these items while they are 40-50% off. Ask your friends for their craft store coupons. If you know in advance that you will be making these you can watch the weekly sales flyers for sales on these items. Check the dollar ribbon area of the craft store for ribbon deals.
This post was originally written by me in 2009. The content has been rewritten and modified to put on my own website.
Image (c) Karen Weideman