Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sick Kitty

Tuesday my poor kitty began acting kind of weird.  I found myself in the vet's office after 5:00 for an emergency appointment.  I'm still awaiting the test results, but she's spent all day upstairs hiding under a bed. 

CORD and Chatter

Tis the season in my area -- a virus is going around that just miraculously happened to make its appearance about the same time school took back in.  I spent Sunday sick and was feeling a little better by Monday....I made a quick vegetarian chili that night because I was craving tomatoes, but I forgot to take a photo.

Tuesday found me feeling a little better, but I had a doctor's appointment that day.  It was at 11:30 so I decided it would be a great day to clean out the refrigerator.  I pulled a piece of my vegetarian sausage, a few Brussel's sprouts, some onion, and leftover chickpeas all out of the fridge.  A quick "stir fry" and I was good to go.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Frugal Happenings for the Week of 8/21

It doesn't seem like much went on this past week -- just the usual life stuff.

I found some leftover yarn from an old project and I am knitting my grandson a sweater.

I read some library books.

I tried some new to me recipes and did some batch cooking for filling the freezer with quick ingredients.

I grocery shopped by a list only.

We did the usual using up leftovers, maintaining things at home, etc.  A dull week in comparison to some, but pleasantly so.

Fast Food Fake Out

Our nod to myhusband's beloved Big Mac.  Boca burger with vegan cheese, lettuce, tomato, and  a homemade vegan Thousand Island.  He declared it a keeper.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

From the Kitchen

The last few days have been a whirlwind.  My husband comes home on weekends and we spend a lot of time just "being."  Of course, we always have things to do, but this weekend we opted for more entertainment type things than we did work.  Even with that half of Saturday was spent on chores. However, we have eaten very well.

Friday night we made pizzas using up the last of the marinara sauce from earlier in the week...using my first taste of Daiya cheese and I love it.  Kind of expensive, but allergen (for me) free and it worked well.  I also realized quickly a little would go a long way.

Strawberry balls using all food storage products.

That night we were craving something sweet, but I didn't want to be stuck in the kitchen during our movie watching time.  I made some quick strawberry oat balls.  Really simple:

3/4 cup dried strawberries (pulse in the food processor)
add in 1 cup of old fashioned oats, 1/2 cup of sunbutter, 2 to 3 tbsp. of agave
Pulse to blend.  Dampen your hands slightly and roll into balls.

They're ready to eat or you can freeze them for an hour.  I actually just refrigerated our leftovers because we prefer them that way.

I also tried my hand at making my first ever vegan "sausage" and it was a hit.  I made 6 patties using a recipe from Robin Robertson.  Saturday morning I used two in this hash that included red potato, Brussels sprouts, onion, etc.  This was a hit!

Saturday lunch was a simple meal.  I had been craving a tomato sandwich and even baked a loaf of bread with that in mind.

Saturday night I had time to play around in the kitchen.  I used kidney beans, Gardein meat substitute, homemade taco seasoning, etc. to create taco salads.  This was my nod to "fast food" or "take out" and they were actually really good.

Sunday has started out simple.  I cooked waffles (making extra to freeze), made scrambled tofu, and sliced tomatoes.  The plans for the rest of the day include fried rice for lunch and then burgers for supper.  I've made a vegan version of Thousand Island dressing for my husband to have on his burger in an attempt to somewhat replicate his beloved Big Mac.  I'll share how it goes.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Baking Day

Now that I am back home I am trying to get back into the habit of having home baked goods on hand to cover meals.  Its a win win for us.  It is more economical and I can identify all the ingredients.  Plus with my husband traveling and my daughter having a crazy college schedule I often need quick pull togethers.  Last night when I was looking ahead in my calendar to the next few days I realized today would be a perfect baking day.  I'd be ready for the weekend and have items in the freezer for the upcoming week.  I started at 8:00 AM and by 12:00 noon I had finished a full days baking, cleaned the kitchen, and knitted on the front of a sweater during my wait times. 

All my breads were made with white whole wheat flour and flax.
2 loaves of French Herb Bread
6 hamburger buns
19 English muffins
1 loaf of sandwich bread

18 freezer biscuits made with whole wheat pastry flour

8 8" pizza crusts -- 2 for tonight and 6 for the freezer

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Grocery Run

With us rolling into September soon I took stock of what we had on hand.  I pulled out the running grocery list and decided what was necessary and what I had a substitute for to use as a basis for creating my list.  I divided it by the three stores closest to my home and with the best prices.  I aim for closest to home because I believe if I ride all over town I am burning up more on gas than I am saving.  Also with me home more now, I am doing less "going by" stores in route to somewhere else.  Some things are specifically for my daughter, who is not joining us on a vegetarian diet. (Even though her items were dairy and technically vegetarian, I am trying to avoid dairy if possible.)

Aldi was first on my list.  I check their prices and what is available before heading to the next stores.

4 packages of wheat tortillas
1 carton FF Lactose Free milk (daughter)
2 cartons organic soy milk
5 lbs. of red potatoes
dish detergent (I usually buy this at Dollar Tree, but wasn't going that direction.)
American cheese slices (daughter)
sweet potatoes
2 dozen eggs (daughter)
sweet pickle relish

Walmart Neighborhood Market
6 lbs. of brown rice
shredded mozzarella (daughter)
6 packages of vegetarian frozen substitutes
vegan mayonnaise
highlighters (daughter)
Gatorade (for travel and blood sugar issues because if I drop this doesn't sky rocket me)
8 cups of yogurt (daughter)
cat food
cat litter

The Fresh Market -- expensive so I only buy specialty items there.
3 packages of Vegan "cheese" -- only place in town I can buy this
3 packages of allergen free chocolate chips for baking (must for allergens)

Total I spent based on my categories (totals rounded up):
pantry stock up -- $21
freezer vegan conveniences -- $30
Gatorade -- $9
Animals -- $27
Produce and perishable -- $55
Cleaning supplies -- $2

The only thing on my list that I feel was kind of high was the vegetarian meat substitutes.  While I don't use a lot of them, I do want to keep some in the freezer for quick fix meals.  Each packages will make two meals for  two of us when combined with leftovers or quick heat veggies.  These are far cheaper than us just trying to grab something or ordering a vegetarian pizza, and I believe they are healthier.  Some days life just requires adjusting and I had rather plan for that than have to scramble at the last minute.

Not too bad and all I will need to buy next month is any fresh produce and dairy we need.  I'll keep a watch on the sales papers just to be safe.  However, I find that most weeks I can beat sales paper prices by careful shopping and keeping the pantry stocked.

Small Batch Preserving

I wanted to cooki collards for my meals today and when I pulled them from the refrigerator I decided I would never finish the entire bag quickly.  I also knew I had some Brussels sprouts I wouldn't get finished up in a timely manner.  Because I could not remember the blanching times I pulled out my trusty food preservation book and looked up how to freeze them.  A few extra minutes of work and I put two meals worth of Brussels sprouts in the freezer and set a meals worth aside for this weekend.  I put a goodly amount of collards in the freezer -- I am thinking enough for two meals or one if we have guests.  At the end of that while my blanching water was still hot I went ahead and cooked my collards for today.

If you can find an inexpensive copy of this book and you like to preserve food it is one I would recommend.  It is compact and has so much information. 

All ready for the freezer!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Italian Night (link to recipe)

For some reason I have been craving spaghetti and meatballs.  When I was flipping through my favorite vegetarian cookbook, Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Roberston, I was excited to find a recipe for "wheatballs."   A quick mental check of my supplies and I was pretty sure I had some combination of the ingredients needed to make these.

The recipe is reviewed here online so I am not going to type it out.  However, I will list the changes I made.

I started by soaking dried mushrooms from food storage and then draining them.  I squeezed some of the water out.  I did not add the tablespoon of water called for until I was sure I would need it.

Since I rarely buy canned beans I cooked mine from scratch in the pressure cooker.  I used dried herbs and seasonings only and  2 tbsp. of tomato sauce from my can that was going in my marinara sauce.  I used Braggs Liquid Aminos instead of soy sauce.  I used homemade bread crumbs (from my pinto bean bread heel that was left).  I pureed the beans and mushrooms, but did all the rest of the mixing by hand.

For the first time ever I actually got the exact amount from a recipe that it said it would make -- 28 wheatballs exactly.  (By the way, these would be good served as an appetizer with pizza sauce for dipping.)

Now the marinara sauce is in the Instant Pot slow cooking away.  I'll serve these with brown rice pasta and sauce. Garden salad will be our side and I'll probably make some garlic bread.

All served up!  My husband loved these.  He said they were well seasoned, had a great texture and tasted great.  I put about half of them in the freezer for another meal.

In keeping with my cook extra plan I cooked a few extra chickpeas for an experiment.  I've never frozen them before to have on hand.  Each bag has 2 cups and they've gone into the freezer.  I'll test one out next week and then the second the following week.  I also had about 3/4 of a cup left that I put in the refrigerator.

The Last P for the Week

I started Sunday off by cooking a good sized amount of pinto beans and over the week I've incorporated them in our meals.   I bought a used copy of this cookbook and really wanted to try the devil's food cookie recipe. Since my family wiped out the granola bars and it was time to refill the cookie tin I thought today would be perfect day to try them.   However, I did not want to cook black beans just to try them.  In the spirit of use what is on hand I just used pinto beans instead. 

These are really good.  All on hand items and even pantry if you use shelf stable soy or coconut milk. 

The Letter P -- Meal 3 (Recipe Included)

These are some seriously good pinto bean burgers.  I found a basic recipe online (search youtube for great recipe videos) and tweaked it to match my daughter's lack of desire for tomatoes and a few things like that.
The recipe is really simple and in keeping with my using up pantry staples.

Earlier in the week I cooked up a big batch of pinto beans and then last night I cooked up brown rice to put in the refrigerator.  I just used both of these, cold, from the refrigerator to make these burgers.

Pinto Bean Burgers

Grind 2 tbsp. of flax seed into meal.  Stir into about 3 tbsp. of warm water.  Set aside.

In large bowl mash:
3 cups (drained) pinto beans (or if you are using canned, drain two cans and use)

Stir in one cup of cooked brown rice, one cup of old fashioned oatmeal.

Add spices: 
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried sage
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3/4 tsp. salt

Stir well and then stir in the flax seed "egg."
Shape into patties.  (I made 8 smaller, but you could make 5 or 6 bigger patties.)
Cover and chill for at least 20 minutes.  I just made mine up in the morning and refrigerated over the day so that all I had to do was pull them out near meal time.  Pan fry with a bit of oil.

I ate mine with sweet potato fries, cucumber slices, and bell pepper.  She opted to have hash browns with hers.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Letter P -- Meals 1 and 2

This week's meals are brought to you by the letter P ... Pinto beans were the first bean I came to in the pantry so I used the pressure cooker to cook up a batch.

Meal 1 -- I was starving and forgot to photograph.  I simply mashed pinto beans with guacamole and ate on fresh bread.

Meal 2 -- I made beans and rice.  (Cooking extra brown rice for use in later meals in the pressure cooker.)

This was my meal. My daughter added some ground beef to hers and skipped the onions.  Two pots to clean, but so be it.

Christmas Box Beginnings

I've finally finished the first of the handmade Christmas gifts.  The pattern is one I purchased two years ago for 99 cents and it has for different apron patterns included.  My daughter in law is really petite so I decided on a tie around the waist style for her.  She's asked for cast iron cookware, but I want to add something homemade in, too.  The fabric came from my stash and so did the thread.  The small piece of interfacing in the waist band was a leftover strip from another project.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Some of my Weekend Cooking

The last tiny bit of lentils was enough to make one bowl of soup when fluffed out with some fresh veggies.  I was kind of tired and this was a great midday pick me up.

I made waffles for breakfast for Saturday morning and made these extra to go into the freezer.  They'll make great quick breakfast items. 

Sunday morning I found myself with some produce that needed using up.  I had a lingering sweet potato, some lingering strawberries and a quarter of a bag of frozen chopped kale that I wanted to use up.  I pulled out some of the produce I chopped last week and fluffed up the sweet potato to make a quick hash.  Sliced the strawberries and quickly heated the kale.  It made for a nice meal and didn't have any of that produce go to waste.

This isn't my prettiest loaf of bread, but it tastes great.  Since my husband and I ground pastry wheat and white wheat yesterday I went ahead and made a loaf of bread.  I had ground pinto beans a week or two ago and decided to experiment with that flour in bread.  I used 2 cups of whole wheat flour, 1 cup of bread flour (my compromise for fluffiness so the whole family will eat the breads), and 1 cup of pinto bean flour with 2 tbsp. of ground flax seed.  I think next time I will use smaller pans and make two loaves or I will try letting it rise longer to see if I can get a more uniform shape.

Chocolate Cake (food storage)

Making a vegan cake is not overly difficult if you keep a stocked pantry.

I used the standard Depression Era wacky cake recipe, but substituted freshly ground whole wheat pastry flour for all purpose.  I baked two layers and when they were cool I frosted them with "buttercream" frosting using coconut fat as the butter substitute.

I hadn't baked a major dessert in a while and this was a hit.

Frugal Happenings for Week 8/14

1.  Sewed pants for my grandson using thrifted fabric. 

2.  Used dried beans recipes during the week for inexpensive and healthy protein.  I cooked them in batches to conserve energy.  I am also only using wheat we grind combined with 1/4 recipes worth of bread flour.  I ground cornmeal for cornbread, too.  My goal is to make all of our breads.

3.  Bought a huge box of parchment paper from Sam's Club for using to trace toddler patterns on. This allows me to preserve the original patterns and is way less expensive than the paper the fabric stores sell.   Bought toilet paper and paper towels at Sam's Club for best bulk price.

5.  Discovered that Dollar Tree has my favorite antibacterial in refill containers, which lets me reuse my bottles and buy 6 more ounces for the same price.  A recycling win and a money win.

6.  I had a midday doctor's appointment and I packed my lunch to carry along rather than trying to pick up something.

10.  I continued to use up items in my craft room stash to work on items for my family.  I refashioned one of my husband's old shirts into a tunic length blouse for me at no cost.

11.  Worked on finding a substitute for the fiber bars my husband likes to eat.  The granola bars were a success.

12.  We spent some time (elbow grease and no out of pocket money) pressure cleaning and scrubbing our patio and front entry area.  We were able to borrow a pressure washer and use Simple Green that I already had on hand.  I'm on the lookout for pretty mums as soon as they become available and the front entrance will be "finished." 

13.  As always, I worked to keep food waste down by eating leftovers and working things into new dishes.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Super Easy Granola Bars

I used a recipe from Weelicious to make granola bars.  This is part of my attempt to find a high fiber bar recipe that comes near what my husband likes for me to buy.  All of the ingredients came from my food storage, which makes them a big plus for me. 

I altered the recipe by using agave nectar and to remain tree nut free I used Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips.  They were my most expensive ingredient and next time I will reduce to 1/2 cup.

I only managed to get about 18 "man sized" squares from the recipe.  I could have cut them smaller, but I think he would have just had a second bar if I did. 

Refashioning a Man's Shirt into a Blouse

I started with a long sleeved dress shirt that was my husband's.  The collar and the cuffs had begun to fray and it was beyond repair.  However, the rest of the shirt was in excellent condition.  He's quite taller than I am with me being far closer to 5 feet than his 6 feet the shirt was perfect tunic length for me, but swallowed me whole so to speak.

I cut off the collar (being careful to save all the extra buttons for my button jar) and rounded the neckline.  A quick turn under and seaming finished it off.  I chopped the sleeves to sit just below my elbows...this length gives me the most year round wearing out of a top.  A quick hem and some tucking to shape them worked wonders there.  Now for the body I did two things.  I cut the shirt just below my natural waist to allow for seaming.  I did some slight shaping to the top.  I then gathered the piece I had cut off and reattached it.  The portion of the sleeves I removed was used to help make a tie belt for the back.  Then I pulled some clearance lace from my stash.  I had a partial spool left from a long ago project.  I added a lace that has a crocheted feel to the neckline and the sleeves.

This is really cute with a pair of skinny jeans and ankle boots.  It looks a lot more feminine than a t-shirt and given how low pants are designed to sit now I much prefer a tunic length.  The fabric is already soft from repeated wearing. 

The cost was $0 and a little bit of my time.  Not bad for a fall wardrobe addition.

Shepherd's Pie (plant based)

The last of my lentils went into a Shepherd's Pie.  I wanted to try to just use up food I had on hand to round it out. 

My basic recipe was as follows:
1 1/2 cups of lentils
12 oz. frozen mixed veggies from Aldi -- thawed
sautéed onion and bell pepper
1 box of soft tofu (from my pantry storage)
1/4 cup of nutritional yeast (from m pantry storage)
enough soy milk to make a smooth sauce
salt, pepper, parsley
2 medium sweet potatoes with a dab of margarine and milk

I pureed the tofu with the yeast and the milk.  Added it to the drained veggies and beans.  Topped with mashed sweet potato and baked it.

This was actually quite good and filling.  It came together quickly because I had previously cooked the beans.  I popped the sweet potatoes in the pressure cooker (whole) to cook them.  Minimal fuss and minimal mess in the kitchen.

Chickpea Wraps for Lentil Tacos (recipe)

I made lentil tacos this week and tried my hand at chickpea bread.
This was super easy to make.

Yields 5 wraps
1 cup of chickpea flour
1 1/4 cups of water
2 tbsp. of flax meal

Mix well.  Add more water if needed to make a thin enough batter.

Cook like crepes.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Final Tunic for the Queen

Today was a day of sewing.  Yesterday I spent the day doing housework, working in the kitchen and getting things ready for a new school year.  Today I only did my basic touchups and spent a couple of hours in the craft room. 

The finished piece is just what she wanted.  I'm glad I did the practice piece because my notes made this one easier.  I also knew which spots were tricky and what to watch out for.  She has two fall tops from stash fabric and a pattern we had lingering. 

Pastel Dress for my Niece

It is so rainy and dark this afternoon that I cannot get a clear photo to show the color.  This is a pretty pastel blue solid fabric on top and then a matching colored print on bottom.  My niece is an animal lover and the ribbon has puppies and kittens on it.

All the fabric, interfacing, thread and pattern came from my stash -- the pattern being one I bought multiples of when my daughter was younger.  This literally cost me my time. 

Scrambled Tofu -- New to Me

It takes a long time for one person to eat up a block of tofu...but I have found a new favorite....scrambled tofu on a bed of steamed spinach.  I used onion, bell pepper, tofu, and spices....this was fabulous!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Spinach and Artichoke "Quiche" (Link to Recipe)

When I was watching cooking shows on the Roku I came across Save the Kales.  I love her videos and this one caught my eye.  I had everything I needed on hand except for the vegan cream cheese, which I decided to pick up.  I used spinach from the freezer to make sure I used what I had on hand rather than duplicate shopping.  I also made a whole wheat (press in pan) crust with olive oil.

This was a major success.  Everyone that tried it loved it.  I ate the leftovers over the course of two days and it did an excellent job of helping keep my blood sugars level.  This was relatively expensive to make since I can only find the cream cheese at the more expensive store in town.  I'll probably keep it for a holiday type meal.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


For our last road trip I needed a mindless project.  I underestimated the amount of yarn I would need and only ended up with four placemats instead of the six I wanted.  Of course, I cannot find more of the yarn in my area and I purchased this out of state.  Fortunately for a lot of meals these days there are only four of us here anyway.  They're coordinating without being matchy-matchy and add a little color to the table.  (Zen, our tom cat, thinks they make great kitty beds.)

Lentil Collard Burgers (Recipe Link Included)

My daughter in law and I cooked these wonderful lentil burgers.  I loved that the recipe used pantry staples and I could even use frozen greens if needed.  I do think they could be made without the greens, too.

Obviously the sauce was a no go for someone with nut allergies, but the burgers themselves are great.  We served them on fresh baked flax and whole wheat buns with vegan "cheese."

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sewing for Toddlers -- Upcycling or Recycling?

My grandson has hit the same stage of growth my son did -- that one where the legs are long and the body is lean.  It was horrible finding pants for my son and of course, at that time I didn't even have a sewing machine.  However, now I have a sewing machine and loads of time. 

These are our test pair.  I'll be mailing them to my daughter in law to try on him.  However, I think I need to go up one size.  The pattern book is one I have had for years and I love.  The clothing looks dated, but new fabrics and lets face it -- children's styles just don't change that much.  To keep costs low on our sample I went to the thrift store and found two large pair of men's pants.  I used the fabric from the legs of a tan pair to make these.  (I'm saving the denim for the next size up.)  Total cost per pair of pants will be a whopping $3.59.  I didn't even buy the thread I was a gift from my husband's great aunt. 

Peasant Toddler Dress

A simple peasant style dress for my youngest niece.  The pattern is free online and the fabric was remnants from other projects.  The ribbon tie I added to the back came from my stash, too.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

"7 Grain Bread" (Recipe Included)

This bread is awesome!  It uses staples I keep in my pantry, is full of healthful ingredients, and tastes wonderful. 

The original recipe was from a Taste of Home cookbook, but I altered it to make it suit my needs.
I use a six grain cereal blend of red wheat, white wheat, rye, oats, barley, and sunflower seeds.  I add 1/4 cup of brown flax seeds to the 1/2 cup of grain cereal used in the recipe.  Any fat of your choice can be used and I think coconut oil would be wonderful in this. 

"7 Grain Bread"  (yields 2 loaves -- 16 slices each with 1 slice counting as 1 1/2 starches on a diabetic diet)

Mix 1/2 cup of six grain cereal with 2 1/2 cups of water.  Microwave for 4 minutes.  This will be soupy.  When finished, stir in:
1/4 cup of flax seed
1/3 cup of molasses
1/4 cup butter, cubed
Let cool until between 120F and 130F.

While liquid is cooling mix in a large bowl:
4 cups of whole wheat flour
1 cup of bread flour
1/4 cup of brown sugar stevia blend
2 1/2 tsps. of salt
5 tsps.  of quick rise yeast

When liquid is cool enough, mix it into the dry.  Stir in 2 eggs.  Beat until smooth.  Add up to 2 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour a bit at a time until you have a firm dough.  (Dough will be slightly sticky.)

Knead until smooth and elastic.  About 6 to 8 minutes.

Grease 2 9x5 inch bread pans.  Divide dough in half and shape into two loaves.  Cover and let double in size.  (About 45 minutes.)

Bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then remove to wire rack to finishing cooling.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Home Improvements and Chatter

We have owned this place for about 5 years now and it was a new construction when we bought it.  We have been fortunate to not have to do anything major other than the repairs to the air conditioner, which was under warranty for parts.  However, we have decided it is time to do some updating on things.  We are picking on project a month to keep things manageable.

On my list are:

  1. storm door added to front entrance
  2. painting -- which will be a big job and we will have to hire someone to do it because of the open stairway.  The hospital bill if I fell from that high would be more than the cost of
  3. a new stove -- the contractor put a cheap one in here and we have had nothing but trouble with it for the last year.  It does things like that 30 to 40 minutes to preheat, etc.  This is despite our attempts at repairing it.
  4. a sleeper sofa -- since I don't want to give up my craft room for a guest room, we feel this is our best option.  I'm searching the local yard sale sites first, but if I dont find something I love, I will buy new as an investment piece.
  5. new living room curtains -- I cannot decide if I will sew these or buy them
  6. refinishing my dining table top -- I want to try my hand at this
  7. having someone re-stretch the hallway carpet that seems to be wrinkling slightly
  8. new wreath for the front entry
  9. refinish the whicker dresser I keep by my recliner (it holds my current hand projects, my journal, etc.)
  10. large multi photo frames for the living room -- I need two and so far I can only find black finish.  I want a deep brown.

Yesterday we had someone install a storm door for us.  The townhouse layout is one where the front door opens into a foyer and it always feels kind of dark in that area to me.  Allowing the natural light in during the morning, when the sun isn't shining on that side of the house is nice.  In the winter, I will open it to allow sun in in the afternoon.  So that is one thing off of our list. 

Sewing for the Queen

We always lovingly refer to my daughter as "The Queen" and she is at an age where it is harder for me to sew for her.  She and I picked out a tunic style top pattern at a pattern sale some time ago.  Today I made a wearable muslin out of some "t-shirt" fabric that had been given to me some time ago.  I have a nice piece of charcoal gray that she has requested one in.  I didn't want to cut it until I was sure the pattern was what she wanted.

This is the trial top.  I will share the gray one when I finish it.

Working on a Frugal Fall Wardrobe

Everyone has taken stock of their wardrobe and I think we are all pretty well set for basics -- except daughter needs new undies.  Anything we add at this point will be either for fun or for special events.  With that in mind I kind of felt free to play around with some of the patterns and fabrics I have on hand to create some just for fun pieces.

Fall, in my area, is pretty mild.  I sewed a simple peasant style top to add to my wardrobe.  It is hard to tell because of the dark colors, but it does have bust shaping and has a tie back belt.  I will probably wear it mostly with jeans, but could easily put it on with a maxi skirt or a pair of khakis.  A cute necklace to dress it up a little bit and I will be ready to face the world.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Red Lentil Pasta Sauce (Vegan Recipe that uses pantry staples)

In an effort to balance my blood sugars I am relying on more dishes that use beans as ingredients.  The mix of protein and carbohydrates they offer seems to help.

This was a new to me recipe, but one that was a hit.  While my daughter doesn't eat tomatoes, my husband and I both loved it.

The recipe is pretty straight forward and I believe credit goes to Robin Robertson, although I cannot remember which book it came from.  The version I am sharing here is exactly what I did and not her exact original.  Not only do I like that it has the lentils, but it also uses ingredients I keep on hand in the pantry.  In a pinch I could easily substitute dried onions and garlic powder for a total pantry meal.  This time I didn't because I had fresh on hand.

I cooked just enough pasta for 4 small servings.  1 larger for my husband for supper, 1 for my supper and 1 for the refrigerator.  I used whole wheat penne, but you could use whatever makes you happy.

Red Lentil Sauce

1 cup of red lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 cups of hot water

Cool until lentils are almost tender.  About 15 minutes or so.


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of chopped onions
2 tsps. of minced garlic

Cook the onion and garlic in oil until soft.  I just used a large pan so that I could add the remaining ingredients.

28 oz can of whole tomatoes, break them up with your spoon
1 small can of tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
pepper and salt to suit

Cook on low until you add the lentils.

When the lentils were almost done, I drained them and added them to the sauce.  I turned the heat up slightly and let it simmer while I waited for the pasta to finish cooking.

The only thing I might change would be to increase the garlic slightly.  However, I think this would be a great base to add to it any veggie you liked.  I'm thinking I would have liked to have bell pepper and mushrooms added. 

Chickpea Blondies

My daughter in law made these and they were a hit.  Even my son, the pickiest of the crowd, liked them. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Using Great Grandmama's Pans

Chocolate cake with raspberry jam and vanilla cream frosting. 

My mama, who has a major sweet tooth, came to visit me for a few days. 
I made this and it was a hit.  I tried a small bite just to get the taste, but realized very quickly it was something I would have to stay away from.  That didn't stop the rest of the crowd though and they plowed through it pretty quickly.

YouTube Creator Tag

This just shares a little bit about me and how/why I set up my YouTube channel.