Posts filed under ‘recipes’

The Go To Dinner

Do you have a list of go to dinners in your repertoire that you tend to eat week after week? I certainly do. This week my husband and I prepared macaroni and cheese, buffalo chicken with baked potatoes, beef tacos made with prepackaged seasoning and open chicken sandwiches with stock based gravy.

I bought two rotisserie chickens earlier in the week and used that chicken in three dinners and one lunch. I did find one new recipe: baked samosas, which my husband and I cooked together on Sunday night. Other than that this week was a hodge-podge of go-to meals that were easy to prepare and super quick to eat.

I always find it difficult to transition back to making nightly meals after two weeks away on vacation. Last week we turned to Noodles & Company and Papa John’s. This week I vowed to make the most of the food in our pantry and managed to cook dinner every night, even if we didn’t eat the most spectacular meals.

I definitely need to expand my repertoire though. I get awfully sick of macaroni and cheese, buffalo chicken and tacos. My husband is great about cooking dinner when I work late a few days a week, but I need to find a few more go-to meals he can prepare with little time and energy. Do you have any favorite meals that you turn to when you don’t have a lot of time to cook dinner? Do you have a list of tasty go-to meals that you find yourself preparing week after week? If so, do you ever get totally and completely sick of making them over and over again? I know I do.

September 24, 2010 at 3:25 AM 11 comments

An Easy Way to Save: Home Made Salads and Salad Dressings

As I reduce my use of preprocessed, pre-made products I find myself preparing more and more simple salads. I eat salad at least once a day and sometimes two or three times. Salads are a great way to squeeze extra produce into my diet, while simultaneously cleaning out the random items leftover on my refrigerator shelves and veggie bins.

Most of my salads start with a simple base of romaine lettuce and/or mixed spring greens followed by a sprinkling of all sorts of fruits and veggies. My favorite toppings include shredded carrots, dried cranberries, walnuts, red pepper, avocado and sunflower seeds. I usually squeeze sliced cheese and whatever leftover protein is in the fridge typically last night’s chicken or turkey leftovers.

As part of the eat from the pantry challenge I decided not to purchase new salad dressing when I ran out a few weeks ago. Instead, I mixed a simple combination of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Since that time I found an amazing salad dressing recipe that I really love.

First step: Make your own Raspberry Vinegar


  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries

Combine vinegar and raspberries in a small, non-reactive pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let steep and cool for 45 minutes. Strain through a mesh sieve, discard seeds and solids. Pour into a sterilized glass bottle and seal with a non-metallic cap or lid. Store in a cool, dark place for 1 week, then pour through a coffee filter to clarify the vinegar. Re-bottle in a sterilized glass container and store in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Second Step: Make Your Own Raspberry Hazelnut Vinaigrette


  • 2 tablespoons homemade Raspberry Vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons hazelnut oil
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the raspberry vinegar, mustard, hazelnut oil, and olive oil in a glass jar and seal the lid tightly. Shake the jar vigorously to combine. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste. The vinaigrette can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 month. Let it return to room temperature before using.

February 14, 2010 at 2:05 AM 2 comments

Recipes From Week One of the Eat From the Pantry Challenge

Last week I managed to cook three new recipes using staple ingredients from our pantry. Among the list were chicken orzo, old fashioned chili and chipotle chicken soup. All three of the recipes were adapted from this month’s Taste of Home magazine.

So without further ado here are the recipes:

Chicken Orzo

  • 1 lb chicken breasts cubed
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning (add more if necessary for flavor)
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (I added until it tasted just right)
  • Directions: Sprinkle chicken w/ Italian seasoning. In a large skillet saute chicken and onion until chicken is no longer pink. Add garlic, cook 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth orzo, Italian seasoning and red pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes until orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed.

Old Fashioned Chili

  • 1 large red onion chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef (I started w/ ground chicken but I think it was freezer burned)
  • 1 can (14 oz) reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp chili powder (I kept adding more to taste)
  • 1 tsp cumin (I kept adding more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp oregano (I kept adding more to taste)
  • 6 garlic cloves chopped (we love garlic)
  • 1 red pepper (diced)
  • 2 celery stalks (diced)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • salt (to taste)
  • Directions: Brown ground beef on medium high heat until no longer pink. Drain. Add beef back to pan and add onion, garlic, red pepper, celery, tomatoes, tomato paste and all seasonings. Continuously stir to mix in the flavors. Add beef broth when flavors combine. I cooked this on low heat, covered, for about 3 hours. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, cheese and chopped green onions.

Chipotle Chicken Soup

  • 1 large red onion
  • few drops of coconut oil (olive or canola would do the trick)
  • 6 garlic cloves (we love garlic)
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 1/2 tbsp adobo sauce from a can of chilies in adobo
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3 chicken breasts (cut into cubes)
  • Directions: Saute onion and garlic in coconut oil until tender. Add broth, tomatoes, corn, adobo sauce, chicken, cumin and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer covered until chicken is cooked through. I left this on the stove on a low heat for about 40 minutes.

January 12, 2010 at 3:30 AM 1 comment

The Penny Pincher’s Pantry

Bored out of my mind and stuck in a never-ending, over-the-phone survey last night I started flipping through the November issue of Ladie’s Home Journal. Much to my surprise, (I’ve only read the magazine a few times before), I and came across a couple of interesting articles. My favorite was a two-page write-up called The Penny Pincher’s Pantry.

The article includes budget-friendly recipes for every day staples like pancake mix, chocolate syrup, fresh buttermilk, jarred spaghetti sauce, taco seasoning and packaged bread crumbs. The recipes are ridiculously simple. For example, to make fresh buttermilk mix 1 tbsp of white vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup of milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes and use. The article says you can also combine 3/4 of a cup of plain yogurt with 1/4 cup of milk.

I rarely purchase buttermilk, so I tend to ignore any recipes that include it as a main ingredient. With the new found knowledge that milk and lemons will do the same trick I can pick and choose from a much wider range of dinner options.

I’m also interested in trying the taco seasoning recipe, because I absolutely hate buying those little taco packets from the grocery store. The recipe requires 4 tsp of chili powder, 1 tbsp onion powder, 2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp ground cumin, 2 tsp paprika, 2 tsp dry oregano, 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp salt. It says to use 2 tbsp of the seasoning for every 1 pound of beef, chicken or turkey. So I can use this mix for dinner one night and put the rest in the cupboard for another night’s dinner.

I like that these recipes allow you to control the salt and skip out on the preservatives. Since there are only nine in the list I plan on trying them all. I’m all for buying less prepackaged items. I think it keeps us healthier and cuts down on our carbon footprint.

November 20, 2009 at 9:20 PM 5 comments

Expanding My Cookware Collection

Every so often companies contact me requesting product reviews on One Frugal Girl. In all due honesty I tend to turn down the majority of requests. I just wouldn’t feel right blasting my readers with reviews and advertisements. My goal is to document my own frugality and fiscal awareness, not to convince my readers to make unnecessary purchases.

So yesterday, when I was contacted to review a product I initially hesitated. Then I paused, considered the possibilities, and decided it wouldn’t hurt to poke around the website for just a few minutes. I figured I’d spend five or ten minutes browsing online, but a few minutes quickly turned into a full hour.

As my regular readers know I am a wanna-be chef. I am constantly experimenting with new ingredients and recipes. In fact, if I had all the money and time in the world I would take cooking classes every day of the week. I would spend money on the highest quality pots, pans and cooking utensils. So when a marketing representative asked if I would review a product on I just couldn’t resist.

Ever since I saw Giada De Laurentiis prepare a chicken and orzo frittata on the Food Network I’ve been dying to give it a try. Actually I thought about making that recipe for days, but unfortunately I didn’t have an appropriate baking dish. Well solved my dilemma with a dish in the perfect size and color. I chose the Le Creuset 11.5″ Oval Dish in Kiwi.

I can’t wait to review this product. I’ve already started searching for other recipes I’d like to try. If you have any amazing recipes for soup or frittatas or anything else I can prepare in this cookware please leave me a comment.

Rachel Ray Cookware

October 28, 2009 at 10:45 PM 1 comment

Three Ruined Dinners in Two Nights

It started with an innocent mistake… I started defrosting chicken in a bowl of cold water and forgot to place the bowl in the refrigerator before going to bed. I wasn’t willing to risk eating rotten poultry so the chicken went directly into the trash. I pulled another package out of the freezer and placed it in the fridge to thaw slowly.

My husband came home hungry and we immediately rushed into cutting up vegetables and preparing dinner. I threw a bunch of garlic into the frying pan and must not have realized it was burned before adding the rest of the ingredients including the newly thawed package of chicken and a handful of spices. By the time I tasted our dish the overpowering flavor of burnt garlic permeated the entire pan. For the second time that afternoon a pound of chicken went into the trash.

The following night I pulled pre-made burgers out of the freezer to thaw. While I was busy scanning 35mm slides for my grandmother, my husband kindly grilled the burgers. A combination of burnt burgers and fairly old ground beef led to a nearly inedible dinner. Let’s just say we filled up on baked potatoes and salad that evening.

Tonight we were finally back on track in the kitchen. We prepared a delicious balsamic and orange chicken dish, based somewhat on this recipe. It felt good to get back on track in the kitchen and cook something edible again!

October 22, 2009 at 3:59 AM 1 comment

Finding Recipes for the Ingredients You Have on Hand

I caught some amazing sales at the grocery store this past month and our pantry is now stocked with all sorts of goodies. I aim to save at least 20% each time I head to the store and today I saved nearly 45% by lining up coupons with the sales circular! I cleaned out the pantry as soon as I got home. First I removed each and every box, bottle, and can. Then I wiped down the shelves, organized the items into groups and lined everything back up.

This time around I placed the items back on the shelves in reverse order. I placed the newly purchased food towards the back of the shelf and put the soon-to-expire items in front. Now I can clearly see exactly what I have in stock and run less risk of allowing food to go bad.

I checked the date on everything and I’m happy to report that almost all of the food is still edible. It’s been so long since I organized the shelves that I was a little worried that some of it may have expired. This go-around I only lost one small can of tomato paste. The expiration date was actually a few months away, but when I opened the can it didn’t look or smell quite right so I tossed it’s contents.

Tonight I pulled out the oldest cans of tomato sauce and paste and a fairly old box of pasta noodles and made the most delicious lasagna. I didn’t have ricotta cheese in the house so I searched for a recipe that didn’t include it. My husband and I aren’t exactly big fans of ricotta so I was actually quite happy to find an alternative recipe.

I’ve come to depend on’s ‘ingredient search,’ to figure out exactly what to make with a pantry full of food. The website lets you search for recipes based on the ingredients you have on hand. Tonight I typed tomato sauce and tomato paste into ‘ingredients I want’ and ricotta cheese into ‘ingredients I don’t want.’ I added lasagna to the ‘additional keyword’ box and clicked ‘Go.’

The site presented me with a lasagna recipe that uses sour cream in place of ricotta. Sounds strange doesn’t it? Well let me tell you it was one of the tastiest lasagna recipes I’ve made. I have to admit that I only use recipes for general guidelines and actually put in my own measurements and often tweak the ingredients and instructions quite a bit, but tonight’s dinner was absolutely scrumptious.

I’m so glad I live in the age of the Internet, without it I probably would’ve found myself driving to the grocery store in search of ricotta.

June 27, 2009 at 3:55 AM 2 comments

Tonight’s Dinner: Chicken Curry

My husband has been begging me to make chicken curry for ages. I’ve tried once or twice before and failed miserably. The first time the flavor was too pungent. The second time the flavor was too bland. Tonight I tried a thirty minute recipe that was just perfect. Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 pound chicken
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt

  1. Slice onions, garlic and ginger.
  2. Chop chicken into bite size pieces.
  3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add onion, curry powder, and salt.
  5. Cook until onion is soft.
  6. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook another minute.
  7. Add chicken stock, chicken and peas.
  8. Cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is thoroughly cooked through.
  9. Take off heat and add yogurt.
  10. Serve over warm white rice.

December 22, 2008 at 4:45 AM 3 comments


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