My New Favorite Egg Salad Sandwich

egg salad sandwichGrowing up, I loved it when my grandmother would make warm egg salad sandwiches. Such a simple meal, but so comforting and tasty. Isn’t that the way with so many traditional meals, though?

I hadn’t had egg salad sandwiches in years but recently began making them again. And boy am I glad I did! This humble sandwich is fairly frugal, easy, and fun.

Fun? Well, why not? Do a search on egg salad sandwich recipes, and you’ll find dozens online. One person’s creamy egg and avocado sandwich can be made into something spicy. And that very fun, versatile nature of the sandwich makes it frugal and the perfect way to use up ingredients you may have lying around.

And don’t forget it’s tasty.

So what’s my new favorite? I call it the Southwest Egg Salad Sandwich. It came about one day when I needed a quick meal using only what we had in the refrigerator, which happened to be pretty bare at the time.

Here are the basic ingredients for this egg salad:

  • A couple of boiled eggs, mashed
  • Handful of crumbled bacon
  • Chipotle ranch dressing
  • Ghost pepper infused salt

That’s it! Just mix it all up, put it on some bread, and you’re ready to eat! You can adjust the ingredients depending on your own tastes or what you have on hand.

Do you have a favorite version of the humble egg salad sandwich? Please share!

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Spicy Slow Cooker Soup

Spicy Slow Cooker SoupIt was a super-busy holiday season with gifts and work and family and get-togethers and baking and fun. The post holiday season let-down has been rather relaxing, though, and the leftover party food has provided us with many days of meals.

But the party’s over, and with my work hours greatly diminished, I need to cook frugally.

Onward, brave housekeepers! To the slow cooker!

Today was a somewhat slow day workwise, so I had some time to throw together a spicy soup, all with ingredients from our kitchen.

Here’s the basics for the soup. Feel free to take this as inspiration and change according to your own tastes or what you have on hand. Frugal cooking isn’t frugal if you have to go out and buy ingredients, right?

Just a fair warning, this turned out quite spicy.

Spicy Slow Cooker Soup

  1. Cook bacon and save the grease to use later.
  2. Bake chicken tenderloins, cutting into small pieces.
  3. Once the chicken is cooked, throw in a good helping of sliced peppers and onions. Add some heaping tablespoons of bacon grease and ghee.
  4. Spice the chicken, peppers, and onions with habanero-infused salt, cumin, herbs and spices blend, onion powder, and chipotle seasoning.
  5. Stick the dish with the chicken, peppers, and onions back in the oven to cook a bit more. Take it out when the peppers and onions are cooked, and everything  is smelling great.
  6. Add to the slow cooker a drained can of pinto beans, a can of Ro-Tel, crumbled bacon, and a can of regular diced tomatoes. Stir in the chicken and pepper mix.
  7. Cook on low for the day. Enjoy!

Hubby seemed to love this soup! He went back for seconds!

 

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Graham Cracker Toffee Crunch, or Overcoming Fears in the Kitchen

Graham Cracker Toffee CrunchDoes anyone else have those dishes that you just avoid making…

Mine would be anything related to homemade caramel or toffee. Yes, I have my own kitchen fears, those dishes that seem to loom larger than life, just taunting me with my own past mistakes.

Back when I was a teenager and fresh out of home-ec class, I decided to take upon myself the task of making dessert for a special dinner when my father’s boss would be visiting. Yes, indeed-y, I was determined and courageous.

I found this delectable recipe in a magazine that involved making homemade caramel, which was absolutely necessary for the recipe. My mother encouraged me to do a simpler dessert, but I wouldn’t listen. No sir, I was confident in my ability. So we gathered the ingredients, and I set to work about an hour before dinner was to begin.

You can probably guess how this turned out, right?

I burned everything. It was awful…I mean, awful. And living in a rural community, we couldn’t just run out to a grocery store or a bakery. My mother hurried to prepare something else while I stood dejected.

I suppose I learned several valuable lessons that day, but I also developed a fear of those sorts of dishes that would last quite awhile. I never wanted to smell that awful burnt smell again, so I just avoided making those dishes. A good plan, for awhile.

But lately, with the onset of middle age and just a ton of shake-ups in my personal life, I decided to give it a try again. I’d been seeing a recipe for Graham Cracker Toffee Crunch floating around the internet. As we had an unused box of graham crackers in our kitchen, I thought this would be a good time to face my fears.

To the kitchen! Honestly, it was pretty much all bravado. I felt more like the following quote from The Princess Bride:

Miracle Max: Have fun stormin’ da castle.

Valerie: Think it’ll work?

Miracle Max: It would take a miracle.

I was careful, very careful. And you know what? It turned out just fine. No awful burnt smell, no dejection. It was a quick and easy cooking experience, and it used up some old graham crackers, so frugal too.

Would I make it again? Yes, I sure would. I think it would make a quick and easy treat for the holidays. And we all need easy and yummy treats for the coming months, right?

Plus I can say that I made it, despite my fears. I stormed the castle of toffee and came out alive.

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Apps and Services for the Busy Bookworm

Apps and ServicesAs long as I can remember, I’ve been a bookworm.

Granted, I have watched a lot of TV. I can name pretty much every Twilight Zone episode and throw around I Love Lucy references with the best of them. But books…well, that’s something totally different.

I grew up with lots and lots of books. My parents read to us and had us read to them as we got older. And any book was certainly fair game. As long as we were reading, it was a good, good thing.

Never one for sports, I was often the lone person in the library reading. Indeed, I quickly transitioned from Dr. Seuss to Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series. Horses merged into science fiction and chick lit and classic literature, eventually landing me smack dab in the middle of Kindle territory.

Yes, I am a bookworm.

But what does a bookworm do when they’re too busy or tired to read? And–for that matter–what does a Christian do when they can’t read scripture?

My dear friends, I’ve been going through this lately. Too little time to sit down with a good book. But luckily for us in the 21st century, we’ve got apps. Although some apps and services cost money, others are totally free.  And that is a great thing in our day and age! You can be filled up while not breaking the bank.

The following are the apps and services that have been helping me through a book-less time, providing me with a positive way to begin and end my day (along with some entertainment in between):

  • The Bible App. We all know this one, right? It’s pretty much my standard app. With its selection of reading plans–along with several audio ones–it’s great. [Free to use!]
  • Abide. This is actually an app that I found through a reading plan on The Bible App. This includes audio prayers paired with calming music. [Free to use!]
  • She Reads Truth. This is one that I’d considered downloading in the past but didn’t as the reading plans were paid. Having tried it, though, I can say they are worth the price. The devotionals are meaningful and provide an interesting view of the scripture being read during that time. [Free to download, some free reading plans.]
  • First5. This app is designed to be the first thing you read in the morning, and indeed it has become so for me. The devotionals for this app are also great and provide a very positive beginning to my day. [Free to use!]
  • Daily Audio Bible. I’m not sure how I discovered this app, but I’m glad I did. This is an app that sounds just like its name. Daily audio Bible readings, all set to calming music. Brian Hardin is the founder of DAB and also the reader for the app. Great app all around. [Free to use!]
  • Kindle Unlimited. Not really an app, but rather a service provided by Amazon, this is awesome-r than a big pumpkin spice latte. Seriously. It’s sort of a Netflix for reading. The great thing about it is not only the “unlimited” part but also the fact that many of the books include narration. So you can clean the house and exercise while listening to the latest book on your phone. [This one costs, so your mileage may vary.]

Hopefully these apps and services will brighten up even the most drab and harried of your days.

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Pasta Bake with Sage Sausage

Pasta Bake with Sage SausageGenerally, when hubby offers to go to the grocery store, I make a specific list of items. Sometimes, though, I just say something like, “Get whatever is on sale.” The results can be interesting, and challenging, to say the least.

This last trip was one of those times. He came back with sage sausage. Now, I grew up eating this type of sausage for breakfast. Only for breakfast. What to do with it now?

Sage is not a spice that I generally use, and so I looked up foods and other spices that might complement it. I learned that oregano, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts go well with sage. So….a pasta bake!

I browned the sausage first in a saucepan and then threw in the rest of a bag of frozen peppers and onions. After all of that was nicely cooked, it went in a baking pan with some melted butter. I added a jar of premium Bertolli sauce along with artichoke hearts, a handful of Italian spice blend, as well as some garlic powder. After a bit of mixing, it went in the oven at 350 while I cooked the pasta. Once the pasta was cooked, it went in to the baking pan and cooked for about an hour, with my stirring the ingredients about every 20 minutes or so.

The result? It was well received by all. It had a subtle flavor that wasn’t too spicy. Plus, my husband and his daughter decided to mix in some cheese, and so that made it all the more family friendly. It was a definite winner!

Sometimes surprises can be good!

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Cooking Disasters, or When Good Intentions Go Bad

CLast night, during a break from my online work, I had a bright idea. I would find a bread machine recipe and surprise my husband with some homemade sweet bread for snacking and breakfast. The machine would do all the work, and I would get all the credit. Sounds good, right?

Well, in theory, I suppose. After a bit of searching, I discovered a brown sugar and pecan bread that apparently worked well in one person’s bread machine. Excited, I threw the ingredients in our aged–and secondhand–bread machine and went back to work. I checked on the bread periodically and gradually became suspicious when there was no delicious bread smell. Still, I was optimistic.

When the machine beeped, I opened it up only to find that the outside of the bread was browned to perfection with the center soft and squishy. Great.

Tired after a day’s worth of work, I began to panic. Still, I was determined not to throw the disaster in the trash. I tossed the partially cooked loaf of bread in a large pan with some butter and stuck it all in the oven. I let the bread brown a bit and then cut it up as it cooked further. Realizing that there was no salvaging this as a regular bread, I decided to make a bread pudding for my husband.

After the bread bits were fully cooked and browned, I soaked it all in a mix of milk and half-and-half. After awhile, I poured a whisked mixture of eggs and sugar over it all. Everything got good and stirred, and then back in the oven it went for about an hour.

And you know what? It actually worked. My husband was pleasantly surprised with his treat. With a bit of ingenuity and desperation, I had managed to create something from a total cooking disaster. Frugal living can be a great thing!

 

Easy Cheesy Soup (In a Wonderbag)

easycheesysoupHaving worked late last night, I wasn’t much in the mood for a heavy day of cooking. Dinner had to be easy and simple, especially since I would be working shifts throughout the day as well.

Luckily, my husband had stocked up on Progresso Recipe Starters awhile back when our local grocery store had run a sale on them. We always stock up on sale goods, especially when they’re canned and shelf-stable items. And who doesn’t like to save money? Anyway, he chose a selection of the various flavors, and luckily we had one of the Creamy Three Cheese starters left in our pantry.

Although the old brain cells take a bit longer to come up with something at my age, I was able to put together an idea fairly quickly. Easy Cheesy Soup! Improvising my own recipe from an established one would have to be the way to go in this case as I definitely wouldn’t be running to the grocery store for a few items. I found a good basic recipe online and began from there.

Here’s what I put in the pot:

  1. 2 links of hot Italian sausage
  2. 1 can of Creamy Three Cheese recipe starter
  3. About 1/3 bag of frozen Mirepoix vegetable mix
  4. Couple of handfuls dehydrated green and red peppers
  5. Ghost pepper infused sea salt from The Spice Lab
  6. Habanero infused sea salt from The Spice Lab
  7. Assorted spices (chipotle, roasted herb mix, garlic powder, etc)

I first browned the sausage in a bit of coconut oil, adding the Mirepoix veggies after a bit. Spices went in next; I then threw in the peppers and soup. I returned everything to boiling and put the steaming pot in the Wonderbag. It sat on my counter for an hour or so until we were ready to eat.

The result? Yummy! We chopped up some cheese in our soup for a garnish, and it turned out cheesy and wonderful. I’ll definitely try this again. And the Wonderbag made it all easy and convenient even for my work schedule.

Dinner Is in the Bag!

dinnerwonderbagBe sure and check out my latest frugal improvisation for dinner in a Wonderbag!

Dinner Is in the Bag!

It was a tasty and easy meal! Plus, as it used up ingredients we already had on hand, very frugal. I’ve got tons of other articles on Bubblews, so be sure and check those out as well. You might find something useful on there!

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Krista Schnee on Bubblews

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Sardine Salad with Crackers

sardine saladDo you ever have one of those days that is unexpectedly stressful and hectic? I think we all do, right? Well, yesterday was one of those days for me. Work and more work, along with upcoming deadlines and the related stresses. It was just not a good day for anything too involved as far as dinner was concerned.

Such days are smaller instances where having a full pantry can be quite handy. No SHTF scenario, no crisis. Just a busy day in need of a quick dinner solution. Luckily, I had just gone to the grocery store and grabbed up a few new items that I was raring to try.  Even a small indulgence or change from the ordinary can make a world of difference in our mood. And if they’re convenient, then so much the better.

I had been reading about sardines and their nutritional benefits, and so I wanted to give them a try. As I was new to eating them, I selected a boneless and skinless variety. After doing some reading, I decided to make a quick sardine salad that could be eaten with cheese and crackers. A cool meal that would be perfect for a hurried schedule!

Although this basic recipe could be fancied up quite a bit, I just used what I had on hand. Here’s what I mixed up:

  1. 1 tin of sardines, drained and chopped
  2. 1 onion, chopped
  3. Sriracha Mayo to taste
  4. Hot mustard to taste
  5. Salt and pepper to taste

The resulting salad is easily eaten with crackers and is filling. Plus it made enough leftovers for a few meals, which is certainly a bonus.

What are your favorite ways to use sardines? Any recommendations for someone like myself who is new to eating them?