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Blog Posts on My Frugal Life:

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
Saturday, December 18, 2010 | By kanthony39us

Recipe Source: Free Slow Cooker Recipes


2 (15 oz.) cans white beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 whole bone-in chicken breasts (3 lb.)
Salt and pepper
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (4 oz.) cans roasted green chilies, drained
1 tablespoon ground cumin


Place beans and broth in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high until beans are
tender, 2 hours.

Warm oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
Place chicken skin side down in skillet; cook until brown, about 4 minutes. Turn
and cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate; remove and discard skin. Drain
all but 2 Tbsp. fat from skillet. Add onions and garlic; cook until softened, 5
minutes. Add onion mixture, chilies, 1 cup water and cumin to slow cooker. Stir;
add chicken.

Cook on low for 6 hours, stirring twice. Remove 1 cup beans plus 1/2 cup liquid
from slow cooker. Puree in a blender; return to slow cooker. Remove chicken,
shred it and return to slow cooker. Serve into individual bowls.

Recipe Source: Slow Cooker Chicken Chili


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Scratch Cooking: Good Gravy!
Thursday, December 16, 2010 | By begonia

So you’ve roasted that chicken or cooked that chuck roast in the slow cooker, now what do you do with those thin drippings and juices? You have two choices: Freeze and save them for your next pot of soup or make gravy tonight!

The easiest way to make gravy is by simply thickening those juices. The easiest was to thicken them is with cornstarch. When I have a guest who is gluten intolerant, especially, this is how I make gravy:

1.       Stir together two tablespoons of cornstarch and ½ cup cold water. (The water must be cool or the cornstarch will clump into distressing little balls and not mix properly.)

2.       Transfer the juices from the crockpot or roasting pan into a sauce pan. Skim the fat from the top leaving mostly drippings. Add broth if you don’t have at least two cups of drippings. (The broth can be made from a bouillon cube or powder added to warms or hot water.)

3.       Add a third of the cornstarch solution (stir it up before adding) to the drippings. Turn up heat to bring mixture to a simmering boil stirring constantly. 

4.       Continue to stir as the mixture turns from milky looking to clear and thickening.

5.       Continue to add cornstarch solution while stirring constantly until the gravy is as thick as you like it. If it gets too thick, thin it with a little water or broth.

6.       You may want to add salt and pepper to taste or maybe some herbs depending on the type of meat. I use sage and parsley for chicken and thyme for beef.

I also use this method to make stir-fry sauce. When all the meat and vegetables are cooked, I push them to the sides of the pot and pour a cold mixture of broth, soy sauce, and cornstarch into the center of the pan and stir until it boils and thickens. Then I take it off the heat and stir to combine the sauce with all the other ingredients in the pot and serve over hot rice.

The other common way to make (medium) gravy is with two tablespoons fat and two tablespoons flour per cup of liquid:

1.       Melt two tablespoons of fat (skimmed beef or poultry fat or margarine or butter or some combination of the two) in a sauce pan over low heat.

2.       Sprinkle two tablespoons of all-purpose flour over fat, then stir or whisk continuously over medium heat until mixture is smooth and bubbly.

3.       Take off heat and add cup of liquid (in this case, drippings, broth, bouillon or some combination of these liquids). Return to heat and bring mixture to a boil stirring or whisking continuously until thickened.   

4.       You can add a little more liquid if the gravy is too thick, or add some cornstarch solution if it is too thin for your taste. (If you measure the flour and fat carefully, you shouldn’t need to do either of these things.)

5.       Add salt and pepper to taste or herbs depending on the type of meat drippings used.

A medium white sauce is basically medium gravy as shown above only you use butter or margarine rather than animal fat and use milk for all or part of the liquid. Add grated cheese at the end, and you have a cheese sauce. Add crumbled breakfast sausage or chorizo sausage, and you have biscuit and gravy sauce for breakfast. Add chipped beef, chicken, turkey, tuna, or salmon and some vegetables and herbs, and serve over toast or baking powder biscuits, and you have a lunch or dinner entrée.

  • For heavier white sauce, add more flour and fat per cup of liquid: ¼ cup flour and ¼ cup fat to 1 cup liquid.
  • For lighter white sauce, add less flour and fat per cup of liquid: one tablespoon flour and one tablespoon of fat to 1 cup liquid.

Cream soups and chowders can start from a light or medium white sauce base that is thinned to taste with more milk or broth.  The cream soup made from such bases can be substituted in casseroles for canned cream soups.  This can add up to quite a savings on the food bill over time if your family eats a lot of casseroles, soups, and chowders.

This last method of making gravy I discovered when cooking a nice lean pork loin roast on a bed of sautéed leeks in a covered Dutch oven. By the time the roast was finished, the leeks were pretty much mush.  The pureed  leeks and pan drippings with some added salt and pepper became the gravy! The pureed leeks thickened the juices wonderfully and made excellent (and in this case, low-fat and gluten-free) gravy. I have since used this method in other meat recipes where vegetables were cooked until very soft (as when you pressure cook or use a slow cooker to prepare a pork or beef roast). An electric stick hand mixer is very handy for pureeing in the cooking pan so you don’t have to use a food processor.

Now you are all set to make gravy, soup, stir-fry sauce, casserole, soup, chowder, or biscuits and gravy! Hope this helps you make some great meals and save money on your next trip to the grocery store. Begonia

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Red Lobster Shrimp Scampi
Sunday, December 05, 2010 | By kanthony39us

Recipe Source:


1 cup white wine
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Parsley flakes


Mix the wine, butter and garlic together and pour over the shrimp. Sprinkle
with paprika and parsley flakes.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 6 to 7 minutes. Be careful not to
overcook the shrimp.

The shrimp is done when it has turned pink.

Free Restaurant Recipes


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Crockpot Creole Chicken
Sunday, December 05, 2010 | By kanthony39us

This is a great recipe with a cajun flair that the whole family will love.

Recipe Source:


1 pound boneless chicken thighs, skin removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 can (14.5 ounces) tomatoes with juice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
8 ounces fully cooked smoked sausage, sliced
1/2 to 1 cup diced cooked ham
1 cup chopped onion
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
a few dashes of Tabasco sauce or other hot pepper sauce
2 cups instant rice, uncooked
1 cup chopped green bell pepper


Combine chicken, tomatoes, broth, sausage, ham, onion, tomato paste, water,
seasoning, and Tabasco sauce in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 5
to 6 hours.

Add rice and green pepper to crockpot and cook for 10 minutes longer, or until
rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Makes 6 Servings

Free Chicken Recipes


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Falling Off the Wagon: Homemade Donuts
Thursday, November 04, 2010 | By begonia

I really “fell off the wagon” on Halloween. All the kids were home, and I’ve been without an oven for almost six months now—so I decided to make apple cider donuts. I found a recipe on the web, bought a gallon of cider and a couple bottles of peanut oil, and we were in business.

There’s just something about homemade donuts (or fry cakes as they call them in this part of Wisconsin).  I have fond memories of being surrounded by good food and siblings with the smell of deep frying in the air. One of my older sisters liked to experiment making different foods. One year she made rum-flavored donuts (Sounds weird but they were really good.) on Halloween. We were living out in the country and didn’t go into town to Trick or Treat, so we had a family party with lots of special food instead.

My grandmother made donuts and had the kids sell them door-to-door in her neighborhood. It was one of the many ways she made money to make ends meet during the Great Depression. She cooked them in a cast iron skillet on her kitchen stove. (I don’t remember her making us donuts as a child, but I do remember her peanut butter fudge!)

We all enjoyed the donuts and donut holes. Here is the website address in case you would like to make some yourself:;jsessionid=D7605220F6DBC1CEDF8E0DBD318CB7DB?contentId=oct07

Here is a whole wheat baked version if I’ve made you desperate for donuts (That would be a good name for a band, don’t you think?) and you don’t want to deal with guilt over the fat—although I’m sure the carbs in this recipe will make up for it!

Enjoy! Begonia


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Carmel-Dipped Fresh Cranberries
Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | By begonia

The friend who gave me the two-pound bag of fresh cranberries commented on how good they are eaten raw dipped in melted caramel. I’d never heard of such a thing! Cranberries are so tart that I’ve always put them on a par with eating rhubarb raw—I just don’t go there.

Yesterday, I was in the grocery store and on impulse bought a bag of Kraft caramels. I melted them in my smallest crock pot, and using a fondue fork, dipped a berry in the molten caramel. After letting it cool a bit on the fork, I tried one. It was the perfect mouthful—totally dangerous. The fruit was as crunchy as a good fall apple but more tart, which complemented the sweet richness of the candy.  It was hard to quit eating them! Give them a try and I’m sure you’ll agree. Begonia


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Lingonberries, Goats, and Cranberry Sauce
Monday, October 25, 2010 | By begonia

A friend of mine gave me a two-pound bag of locally grown cranberries this past week. (Did you know that 60 percent of all cranberries in the world come from Wisconsin?) Usually, I would have made cranberry bread or some other baked good with them. I still don’t have an oven, however, so I decided to make some cranberry sauce instead. 

I had never made cranberry sauce before, so I turned to my extensive cookbook collection and ended up using a combination of a recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook I grew up with and a slightly more elaborate recipe from the 1977 Cranberry Cottage Cook Book from Nova Scotia!

It was very simple.

1.       Take equal parts sugar and water and bring to a boil in a heavy pan.

2.       Continue to boil for 5 minutes.

3.       Add as many cups of cranberries as you have water and sugar and simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring frequently. (I also added minced, frozen orange peel and could have substituted orange juice for some of the water.)

4.       You will hear the cranberries popping as they cook. How thick the sauce gets depends on how long you simmer and stir it. The cranberries are cooked after 5 minutes.

5.       Additional simmering thickens the mixture, and it sets up as it cools. This sauce is chunky, but you could puree it in a food processor at this point if you want smoother sauce. (I used my trusty stick blender.)

I am a lover of lingonberry preserves, but they are very expensive and not easy to find. (They are a type of mountain cranberry that grow in Sweden.)  I first tasted them at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant and Butik (the one with goats on the grass-covered roof) in Door County, Wisconsin, on their famous Swedish pancakes and have been hooked ever since. (  )

What does cranberry sauce have to do with Door County, Lingonberries, and goats? Whole cranberry sauce makes a great substitute for expensive imported lingonberry preserves! (Actually, another neighbor who also got hooked on lingonberries at Al Johnson’s put me on to this idea.) We ate this homemade sauce on pancakes, and it was wonderful. The sauce had a fresh fruit flavor that you don’t get from canned, store-bought sauce.

Cranberries are being harvested now and will go on sale around Thanksgiving. Try making some fresh cranberry sauce this year–it is quick, easy, and delicious. Begonia


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Pantry Pancakes
Thursday, October 14, 2010 | By begonia

I thought about going to the grocery store this morning for donuts—gasp! I know though that if I go into the grocery store I will end up buying more than donuts.  Most of you probably have more self-control than I can boast of. I always end up picking up a few more items than I went in for—list or no list.

You see, I love grocery stores and all the potential they hold. I even get into trouble in the outside aisles where we scratch cooks are supposed to do most of our shopping. The bakeries in most American grocery stores are on the perimeter!

I decided to be strong this morning and be my own grocery store. I practice the “pantry method” of buying food. I buy larger amounts when items are on sale or when I can get them cheaper in bulk. When I need something, I often “shop” from my own pantry.  

Here is what we ultimately had for breakfast this morning, served with maple syrup, butter, and cherry pie filling!

Orange Bran Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup whole wheat flour,

2/3 cup wheat bran

4 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon minced fresh orange rind

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 large egg

¼ teaspoon almond extract

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups milk

Combine flours, bran, baking powder, salt and set aside.

Combine orange rind, oil, egg, extracts and milk.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.

Fry on lightly greased griddle or frying pan.

Makes about 24 pancakes.

These pancakes pack a wallop, you only need three or four and cup of coffee to feel full—maybe less if you are a light feeder. My husband ate SIX, but he has the metabolism of a blast furnace. (The cherry pie filling was his idea!) Enjoy!  Begonia

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great breakfast!
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 | By MzScarlett

Simply get some oat bran; to make it into a delicious cereal, make 2 cups boiling water; then slowly add the oat bran, stirring it. Lower heat, will be thick in just a moment;

 Organic oat bran: no need to pay more for "cereal"; simply use the oat bran! Quick, simple, easy, delicious and nutricious! feel free to add berries, banana's what have you to!

Since I stay away from milk, I simply put on a little REAL butter, from REAL cows, bought at a local creamery (NOTHING tastes as good as THIS); and add a little organic raw sugar to it.

Similar to cream of wheat but thicker, and not as thin. Great change of pace from oatmeal, which I still like!

Though I say "breakfast" I have enjoyed this for lunch, and for dinner!  Think tomorrow I will add some organic raisins to it!

To your HEALTH!

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Sour Refrigerator Pickles: Much Ado About Cucumbers
Thursday, September 02, 2010 | By begonia

My dark literary roots are showing today! Didn’t a famous woman say, “You can never have too many cucumbers?” I spent all last summer trying to foil vine borers (unsuccessfully) and all last winter dreaming of cucumber salads and gently sweating jars of refrigerator pickles.

When I was offered my first paper grocery bag of cucumbers, the first thing I did (after saying Thank You!) was make the following recipe:

Sour Refrigerator Pickles

  • 8 cups of small or thick sliced cucumbers
  • 1 large sliced onion
  • 2 large dill flowers (or dill seed)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dry mustard
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup sea, canning, or uniodized salt
  • 2 ½  cups white vinegar
  • 8 cups water
  1. Layer cucumber, onion, and dill in a gallon glass jar or a number of smaller jars.
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large pot and heat until the salt melts—no need to boil.
  3. Cool brine before pouring over the contents of jar(s) and refrigerate. (If brine is warm or hot, it will cause the finished pickles to be soft—YUCK!)

You can begin eating these pickles whenever they taste good to you. If you don’t like garlic or onion you can leave it out. If you just want a garlic pickle, leave the dill out. This is a flexible and forgiving recipe and can be increased or decreased, as long as you keep the vinegar, water, and salt ratios constant.

This is not a canning recipe, so don’t even think about it :-) ! These pickles keep for a long time in the refrigerator. The onion and garlic pickle right along with the cucumber, so be sure to enjoy them as well. Begonia


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