A blog about family, food and fun!

Tag: cooking

An Overview of Meal Planning

An Overview of Meal Planning

Meal Planning to Save Time and Money   I have heard of the wonderful idea called meal planning many times over the past few years and every time I read a post about it I love the idea of having all of our meals planned […]

Uber Frugal Month January 2018 Wrap Up!

Uber Frugal Month January 2018 Wrap Up!

We have come to the end of our Uber Frugal Month Challenge and we were pretty successful! We kept to our super low grocery budget, were mindful about our purchases and had some great discussions about where we want our life to head and what […]

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 4

Uber Frugal Month Challenge Week 4

We are entering our final days of the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month Challenge and it has been a great refresher for us to get back into our frugal habits. I am finally caught up on all of the emails and they really made us think about how we spent our money. Last week was a rough one for us and the entire week seemed against us but it did not effect our spending and we are on track with our grocery spending for the month. Yay!

 

Tacos made with canned refried beans, leftover pork, feta, olives and corn tortillas with salad.

 

We dug into our pantry a bit this week and used up some cans including olives, refried beans, tomatoes and a can of chicken. My kids love the cans of Costco chicken made into chicken salad and it is one of the few things I can send in their lunches that they will actually eat. I have tried making it from scratch chicken but even though I love it my kids are iffy on it.  We also used up some of the corn tortillas I found in our freezer. There are still quite a few in there though! Here are a couple of our other meals:

 

Salad, leftover refried beans, frozen corn and what we call “basic” cooked pork.

 

Homemade meatballs, homemade spaghetti sauce, gluten-free noodles, steamed carrots and salad.

 

As you can see a simple green salad with sunflower seeds has become a staple in our house.  I have always loved salads and try to eat at least one a day but I fell out of that habit while I was pregnant with our son. For some reason any sort of fresh fruit or vegetables made me sick and nearly two years later I am still trying to recover from it. Have you ever had a weird food aversion like that? Thankfully I can now eat salad again but I am still working on fruit. It just isn’t appealing to me any more even though I used to love it. I am hoping this summer when we are out picking fresh fruit it will spark my interest again! Our kids are not super fond of salad although they will eat a piece or two of lettuce sometimes when we ask them to try it so we always offer another vegetable and give them a choice of what they want. In the summer when we have lettuce growing in the garden the kids eat it all day long so apparently lettuce is only tasty to them straight from the garden? I may have to finally try growing some indoors and see if they will eat it.

 

Homemade English muffin, homemade pork sausage and vegan cheese.

 

One of the things my husband did for the kids this week was make homemade English muffins and make them breakfast sandwiches in the morning. They absolutely loved them and my son ate a whole one by himself which is crazy! Other days they ate them with peanut butter or even some of our homemade jam. We have ground our own meat for many years and my husband makes the most delicious garlic sausage. He made it this week and we have been eating it all week. I love garlic so it has been wonderful!

 

Homemade kettle corn.

 

The other food we have been munching on quite a bit lately is popcorn.  My husband loves his spicy but the kids and I love his dairy-free kettle corn made with coconut oil. We have been making it so much that we wore out his stove-top popcorn maker.  A new one is on our list of high priority household items to buy in the next couple of months. We use it several times a week for a cheap and easy snack!

 

A very windy and rainy day walk.

 

We had more than a little bit of cabin fever this week. Our kids were finally getting over two months of back to back colds and needed to get out and do something. Since we are being frugal we tried to find things for them to do at home but there reached a point last week when we had about 30 minutes to take them outside in the windy and very wet weather to jump in puddles to burn off some energy. It ended up being tons of fun! We went on the trail through the woods that I have been hearing about since we moved in but never gotten around to walking on and it was a pretty trail to walk on. We ended up doing a 3/4 (2yo and I) and 1 mile (4yo and Mr. Oscoey) loop and both kids walked the whole way and jumped in as many puddles as they could.  We will probably start doing more family walks around the neighborhood like that, especially since our son didn’t need to be carried. It is a great free activity for the family to do and it is important that our kids know the layout of the neighborhood for when they are older.

 

Water color finger painting.

 

Another boredom buster we did was to break out the paint. I realized we stopped doing our afternoon art because we got busy with the holidays. We have started it up again and the kids picked painting this time and had a blast. We cut up some sponges I bought a couple of years ago to paint with and our son wanted water colors so he practiced his painting skills and blending colors. They did make quite a bit of mess and we had to talk about how we behave while we paint but overall it was a success.

 

Puppy damage…

 

One unexpected thing that came up this week was some damage our puppy did to our wall. My husband patched and repainted this spot masterfully a couple of weeks ago but our puppy, being the crazy dog that he is, ran into the wall again and dented it with his gigantic bony elbow.  He is incredibly observant and noticed right away that the wall was slightly different so he investigated it and discovered he could peel back a section to chew on. Seriously. He did this while I was dealing with a kid “emergency” and he was not the least bit remorseful. In fact he tore another chunk off as soon as I wasn’t looking. I am really thankful that my husband is able to repair minor drywall damage and we do not have to pay someone to do it.  We have saved so much money doing small repairs ourselves and Mr. Oscoey has gotten better over the years and now you can barely tell that it was repaired. I highly recommend that you learn how to do minor house repairs like this so that you aren’t paying big bucks to have it fixed.

 

Overall the week was super frugal and we hardly bought anything besides necessary groceries like milk, fruit and some small key ingredients for recipes. I am excited to write up our end of the month recap later this week so look for it on the blog!

 

The Uber Frugal Month Challenge is almost over but how are you being frugal in your every day life?

 

 

Gardening Goals for 2018

Gardening Goals for 2018

Last week I posted a sort of list for our financial goals for 2018. Today I wanted to lay out some goals we have for our garden.  We learned a lot last year about where the best light is for our small vegetable patch and […]

Dried Banana Chips

Dried Banana Chips

One of the easiest, cheapest and healthiest snacks I make my kids is dried banana chips. My son absolutely loves them! We buy a couple of bunches of bananas at Costco for $1.39, slice them up and put them into the dehydrator and at the […]

Gluten and Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten and Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Baking chocolate chip cookies with the kids is one of my favorite family activities. When we had to go dairy and gluten free I was a little upset but I found a way to make chocolate chip cookies with some easy substitutions. Back when we had only one kid we made our own gluten free flour mixtures tailored to whatever we were making but now that we have three kids and our time is in very short supply I have been buying an all-purpose gluten-free flour. We found it at Costco for a decent price. It works pretty well for generic recipes and I use it in my Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Banana Bread and it tastes very similar to regular flour.

 

 

Gather your ingredients. We buy most of our items from Costco as you can see!

 

 

Cream your coconut oil and sugar in a bowl.

 

 

Add your eggs and vanilla and mix until blended.

 

 

Now add your baking soda, salt and flour. I like to split the flour in two to cut down on the mess. Purists will mix their dry ingredients in a separate bowl before mixing in with the wet ingredients but I like to avoid washing more dishes if at all possible so I have always done it this way.

 

 

 

Next add your chocolate chips.  The recipe calls for 2 cups but honestly I just dump what I think is a good amount in and call it good. I like the dough to be full of chocolate chips so I probably add more like 2.5 cups but it really is a personal preference.

 

 

Once you are done mixing place the dough in the fridge for at least a couple of hours.

 

 

I usually freeze at least half of it by double wrapping it in plastic wrap.  It is really convenient to have a little bit of cookie dough in the fridge for those days that you need to whip some dessert up in a hurry. Sometimes we will portion it out ahead of time and freeze on cookie trays so we can bake individual cookies which is great for when the grownups want an after bedtime treat!

 

 

Once chilled, set the dough out on the counter for 20-30 min and then used a 1 Tbsp measuring spoon to divide up the dough. Place it on a cookie sheet with a Silpat, ball it up a bit and then squash the tops so that they are a little flat.

 

 

Bake for 5-7 minutes at 350 degrees or until done. Leave on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes then transfer them too a cooling rack and let cool.

 

And that my friends is how we make our easy Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies! They are great with milk (both soy and regular). At some point I might get ambitious and try making dairy-free ice cream sandwiches with them.

 

What is your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe?

 

Mini Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

September 27, 2017
: 45
: 2 hr 50 min
: 6 min
: 26 min
: Easy

These easy to make dairy-free, gluten-free chocolate chip cookies are delicious! They are perfect for parties, events and for making with the kids.

By:

Ingredients
  • 3/4 c coconut oil
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1 c packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups Gluten-Free flour
  • 2 cups dairy-free chocolate chips
Directions
  • Step 1 Cream your coconut oil, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a bowl.
  • Step 2 Add the eggs and vanilla and mix on low.
  • Step 3 Add your baking soda, salt and 1/2 of the flour and mix. Once mixed add the remaining flour and mix until smooth.
  • Step 4 Add your chocolate chips and stir until combined.
  • Step 5 Chill your dough for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
  • Step 6 Remove dough from the fridge and let sit out at room temperature for 30 min.
  • Step 7 Set oven to 350 degrees while you measure out your dough with a 1 Tbsp measuring spoon. When you measure pack the dough into the 1 Tbsp measuring spoon and flip onto the cookie sheet. Mold into balls and flatten slightly.
  • Step 8 Bake for 5-7 min on the middle rack or until done.
  • Step 9 Remove from the oven and cool on a wire cooling rack.
  • Step 10 Enjoy!
  • Step 11 If you decide not to bake all it at once you can double wrap the dough in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Let thaw in the fridge for 24 hours before removing it to bake.

 

Blueberry Picking 2017

Blueberry Picking 2017

We have had a super busy summer and I was really bummed that we missed the July blueberry picking season. Our bushes are only a couple of years old and don’t produce anywhere near enough berries for us to freeze. They were eagerly eaten every […]

Guest Post: Toum (Garlic Sauce)

Guest Post: Toum (Garlic Sauce)

Hello, Mr. Oscoey here. If you don’t love garlic, you should probably just move on to the next post. If you love garlic as much as my family does, or you have a vampire problem, read on.   This site participates in affiliate links and […]

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Banana Bread

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Banana Bread

Banana bread was one of those things I always meant to make but never got around to. We would put bananas in the freezer and inevitably forget about them. I have tossed so many bananas into the yard waste I can’t even remember. Part of our plan to be more frugal is to waste less food. Food waste is a huge problem, especially in America with up to 40% of all food produced wasted according to the National Resources Defense Council.  Many people buy more than they need and a lot of it gets tossed out.  We have always gone through the pantry a couple of times a year and donated what we are not eating but that is harder to do with the lettuce you fully intended to eat but has now formed a mushy mess in the bottom of the vegetable drawer. I have been really working hard at lowering our produce waste lately and only buying enough fruits and vegetables for us to actually eat.

 

Our efforts have been working and we no longer have several bananas in the freezer or mushy lettuce in the fridge but we do run out of fresh fruit and vegetables sometimes but you know what? It is completely fine. I keep frozen fruit and vegetables in the freezer and when we run out I make sure to go to the store the next possible day.  We have gotten much better about buying only what we need and now that our berries and squash are beginning to ripen I don’t really have to worry about running out.  We just head out to the garden and see what we can find.  Right now we have blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and huckleberries ripe and my kids have been out there daily munching away.

 

Hickies - No Tie Elastic Shoelaces

 

Finding a good banana bread recipe was a difficult task.  We don’t like it very sweet and it needed to be easy enough for me to put together with the kids running around.  I found this one at Mr.Breakfast.com several months ago that I absolutely love.  We have since gone gluten and diary-free and I have been able to adapt it easily with pre-made gluten-free flour and coconut oil. I also cut the sugar in half because we are trying to reduce our sugar intake in our house.

 

 

I found some gluten-free flour at Costco that I thought I would try it with this banana bread and so far I have been really pleased with it. I can’t taste any garbanzo beans and unsuspecting family members haven’t been able to tell the difference so I may branch out to something else.  I have been hearing about this butter flavored coconut oil for months in my mom’s group and I used it with the banana bread. I am not sure if it is worth the extra cost yet.  The container is not very big and using 8 tablespoons for the banana bread recipe made a huge dent in it so I might just reserve it for recipes where it really matters. Ha ha don’t look at the salt I used.  We have been out of Kosher salt the last couple of weeks and my husband and I kept forgetting to buy it. He is a huge salt lover though so we have many different kinds stashed away in the cupboard and the sea salt made the cut as our temporary substitute.  Do you guys ever do that? A box of Kosher salt lasts us many months and we never remember to buy it when we are out. Somehow since we rarely need salt it slips our minds every time we are at the store. I should probably start buying two so we have an extra for our emergency kit.

 

 

First things first measure out your coconut oil and your sugar.

 

 

Cream them in a bowl. I am fond of the hand mixer for smaller jobs but you could use a stand mixer as well.

 

 

Beat 2 eggs into a bowl.

 

 

Mash up your bananas. I did them one by one in the egg bowl to save on dishes.

 

 

Add your flour slowly.  I split it into 2 1/2 cups and 1/4 cup and slowly mixed them in.

 

 

Yum! If you like nuts or chocolate chips in your banana bread you can add them here. My son is too young for nuts so I leave them out.  We also don’t eat a lot of sugar so I leave out the chocolate chips.

 

 

Pour your mixture into a greased loaf pan and tamp it down. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

 

 

There you have it! Yummy banana bread fresh out of the oven. The hardest part is waiting for it to cool!

 

Gluten-free Dairy-free Banana Bread

July 15, 2017
: 8-10
: 10 min
: 60 min
: Easy

Quick and easy banana bread easily made gluten and dairy-free.

By:

Ingredients
  • 8 Tablespoons Coconut oil (or butter)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 3 bananas
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 and 1/4 cups All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour mix
  • Optional 1/3 cups Walnuts
Directions
  • Step 1 Grease a standard loaf pan and set oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  • Step 2 Cream the coconut oil and sugar together in a large bowl.
  • Step 3 Beat two eggs together and add them as well as two mashed bananas to the bowl.
  • Step 4 Mix in salt and baking soda. Add flour, mixing slowly.
  • Step 5 Bake for 40-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean in the center of the loaf.

 

 

Garden Update July 10th 2017

Garden Update July 10th 2017

We have had a busy week in the garden! Lots of flowers are in bloom and we spent many hours pulling ivy along the property lines in anticipation of our fence measure this week. We are very close to being done with the fence line […]