Category Archives: simple living

Debi’s Confetti Salad

Gluten-free.  Meat-free.  Cheese-free.  I even made ours sugar-free.  Sounds like there’s nothing in it but air, doesn’t it?  Nothing but yummy deliciousness, that is!

Debi’s Confetti Salad

  • 3 cups cooked rice, cooled (your choice of white, basmati or brown)
  • 1 can (16-oz) red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can (16-oz) black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can (16-oz) corn (drained)
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 small or half a large green or red pepper (finely diced)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (if available)

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (or your choice of sweetener)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander (optional)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Place first set of ingredients into a large mixing bowl.  In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients.  Pour over salad in large bowl.  Toss to coat.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

This goes together really fast once the rice is made.  And if you have leftover rice from a previous meal, so much the better (and faster!).  This is an easy dish to play around with … add a can of garbanzos … chop up a cucumber … use different beans … add a little freshly squeezed lime juice.  Maybe some diced avocado!  Yum … I’m getting hungry again.


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Filed under budget, budget meals, cooking, family, food, frugal living, frugality, gluten-free, recipe, recipes, salad, simple living, Vegetarian

Debi’s Evolving Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Personally, I find a lunch consisting of a warm grilled cheese sandwich and a hot bowl of tomato soup to be one of the all-time great comfort foods that exists.  Brings back warm, fuzzy memories of both my mom and my grandma. Continue reading

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Got Budget Woes? Simple Grocery Savings Ideas


by Deborah Taylor-Hough


Groceries are one of the few flexible items in a family budget, but it can sometimes be challenging to find creative ways to save on regular family food costs. The following are some simple tips for reducing your grocery expenses. If you’re an old pro at frugal living, some of these may be old hat, but I’m amazed at how many people still find these types of tips helpful.

  1. Plan ahead. Whether you’re cooking your meals ahead of time to store in the freezer, or just planning your menu and shopping lists in advance, it helps to know what you’re going to eat, and when. With fewer last minute food-related decisions, this also helps keep your family away from developing a first-name relationship with the pizza delivery guy! (And your own home cooking is probably a lot healthier than the pizza guy’s wares, anyway.) Continue reading

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Debi’s Favorite Easter Recipe: Make-Ahead Chicken Packets


by Deborah Taylor-Hough


It was truly a sad day in our house when three of the four of us could no longer eat this particular meal. This recipe had become my go-to meal for Easter brunch — they’re actually quite elegant looking and they taste heavenly.

But sadly, now I’m the only person in our immediate family who can eat this anymore. I think I might make up a batch of them just for myself, however. It’s also a great way to use up leftover roasted chicken. 🙂

Serve this with steamed asparagus and a fresh tossed salad. Yum! Continue reading

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Debi’s Hacienda Breakfast Sandwich

In a hurry for breakfast but have a few minutes to scramble an egg? With no more effort, you can make this simple breakfast sandwich (or substitute the English Muffin for a corn tortilla for a gluten-free burrito option).

This recipe is for a single serving, but simply multiply each ingredient by the number of people you’re feeding. It doesn’t take much longer to scramble one egg for yourself or four for the family.

And making a breakfast sandwich at home is so much cheaper than buying one on the way to work at the local drive-thru.  Tastes better, too.

Enjoy!  😀 Continue reading

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Debi’s Tex-Mex Layered Dip Recipe

Copyright Deborah Taylor-Hough. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Debi’s Tex-Mex Layered Dip Recipe

This is one of my standby recipes that I take to potlucks or serve when we’re hosting a Game Night for friends and family at our house. It’s always a huge hit … and never any leftovers! It might actually be worth making two if you’re expecting a large crowd or want some to snack on the next day. I’ve actually been known to serve this to the four of us at home for a light dinner or lunch. It’s very filling! 8)

When money’s tight (which it usually is these days!), I leave out the avocado layer and don’t add the mayonnaise or packet of taco seasonings. It’s still tasty, though. 😀

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sized ripe avocadoes
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning mix
  • 2 cans (10.5 oz each) plain or jalapeno flavored refried beans
  • 1 large bunch of green onions with tops, chopped
  • 3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (10 oz.) sliced black olives
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • a bag or two of tortilla chips

Instructions:

  1. Peel, pit and mash avocadoes with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise and taco seasoning mix.
  3. To assemble layered dip, spread refried beans on a large shallow serving platter or 9″x13″ baking pan.
  4. Spread seasoned avocado mixture over beans, and then spread on a layer of the sour cream mixture.
  5. Sprinkle with chopped green onions, tomatoes, and olives.
  6. Cover with shredded cheese.
  7. Serve chilled or at room temperature with tortilla chips as dippers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Deborah Taylor-Hough is the mother of three grown and nearly grown kids still at home, a full-time college student, a displaced homemaker trying to make ends meet on a limited budget, and the author of several older (but still in print) books including the popular Frozen Assets cookbook series. You can visit Debi online at: http://www.SimpleMom.com

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Hot Spiced Cider

My recipe for hot spiced cider is one of those throw-it-together-as-you-go recipes, but I’ll try to explain the process as best I can. This is an easy recipe for kids just learning to cook, too.

First, take a large jug of apple juice or cider (a gallon is a good amount). Then pour the juice into a large pot on the stove (or into the crockpot if you don’t want to use a burner). Heat to a simmer.

Then add the following ingredients to the simmering juice:

  • about one cup of frozen orange juice concentrate (this ingredient
    is a MUST)
  • approximately two teaspoons (more or less) of EACH of the following: Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves (whole or ground)
  • and sometimes I add about one cup (or less) of cranberry juice

Let it all simmer for awhile (half an hour at least).

The smell wafting through the house while the cider is simmering is simply heaven. Serve the hot spiced cider in mugs. For a nice touch, add a whole cinnamon stick to each mug.

Having a large pot of hot, spiced apple cider simmering on the stove when company arrives is a sure way to make them very happy that they chose to come over to your house.  🙂

~Debi

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Praline Pumpkin Dessert

I stumbled upon this recipe online yesterday at the Betty Crocker site and realized I had all the ingredients in my pantry … no trip to the grocery store needed.  So I made it last night … and everybody loved it!

Click here: Praline Pumpkin Dessert

It’s almost too easy.  I had to read the instructions several times to make sure I wasn’t skipping a step or something.  It’s also one of those things that you can buy the various ingredients when they’re on sale to keep on your pantry shelf for a spur-of-the-moment, relatively inexpensive dessert.

It’s not a pie … but the bottom layer is essentially pumpkin pie filling.  It’s definitely not a cake … but it uses a box of cake mix.  It has a crust on top that’s almost like a cobbler crust with nuts added … but it’s not a cobbler either.  No wonder they simply call it a “dessert” … it defies description.  😉

~Debi

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Beating the Breakfast Rush Hour

Wow.  It’s September again.  School’s starting up and life’s getting back into it’s normal — but incredibly busy — routine.
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For many families, morning is a hectic and hurried time. Frequently parents feel fortunate just to get everyone out the door fully dressed each day. Serve a hot cooked breakfast every morning? Not a chance.
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Breakfast (if it’s served at all) often consists of grabbing a toaster pastry and a quick glass of juice as the family runs out the door racing headlong to work and school.
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I’ve discovered that taking an hour or two on an occasional weekend to prepare breakfast items for the freezer, takes much of the insanity out of the weekday morning rush.
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Waffles, Pancakes, French Toast
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To prepare waffles, pancakes and French toast for freezing, cook until lightly browned. Don’t overcook. Then freeze individually in a single layer on a cookie sheet or flat pan.
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When frozen solid, stack together in a freezer bag. By freezing these items separately, they won’t stick together. You can remove only the amount needed for today’s meal whether it’s one waffle or a dozen.
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To reheat, just pop them (still frozen) into the toaster on the pastry setting (low) just like you would do with the boxed frozen waffles from the store. Heating in a toaster keeps them firm, rather than limp and soggy which often happens when these breakfast items are reheated in the microwave.
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Muffins and Quickbreads
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Make muffins and quickbreads ahead of time to serve for easy breakfasts. Just bake your favorite recipes as usual, cool completely, wrap in foil, label, and freeze.
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You can also wrap individual muffins in plastic wrap and then place the wrapped muffins into large zip-top freezer bags. Muffins can be easily reheated in the microwave. Serve with fresh fruit and juice for a delicious and easy breakfast.
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Recipe: Debi’s Breakfast Burritos
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To get you started on the road toward simple breakfasts, here’s a recipe for easy Breakfast Burritos … definitely one my family’s all-time favorite make-ahead meals. Recipe reprinted with permission from my book, Frozen Assets:  Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month.
  • 12 eggs, beaten
  • 1 pound bulk sausage, cooked (or crumbled links)
  • 1/2 cup chunky salsa (your choice of heat)
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 24 small flour tortillas (you can also use whole wheat)
 
Scramble eggs in large skillet until done; stir in cooked sausage and salsa. Warm tortillas in microwave 20 – 30 seconds or until warm and flexible. Place 1/3 cup egg mixture into tortilla; roll burrito-style.
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Freeze burritos in single layer on lightly greased cookie sheet. When fully frozen, wrap burritos individually; place wrapped burritos in large zip-top freezer bags; freeze.
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To serve, unwrap burritos from foil or plastic wrap that you used for freezing. Wrap in a paper towel. Cook in microwave until heated through (about 2 minutes). Or thaw burritos (remove plastic wrap if used in freezing), wrap burritos in foil, and bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes.
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Optional Ingredients:
  • 1 green pepper, finely diced
  • 6 potatoes, shredded and fried until cooked through (or use hashbrowns)
  • Jalapeno slices
  • Small can chopped green chiles
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 tomato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced with tops

 This recipe makes about 24 breakfast burritos but it will depend on how generous you want to be with each burrito’s filling — I tend to add lots of the “extras” listed at the end of the article so that’s probably how I usually get the full two dozen … so your mileage may vary.

I’ve even taken these frozen burritos with us when we’ve gone camping. I just place the bag of frozen burritos into the ice chest, and by the time we’re ready for breakfast the first morning, the burritos are fully thawed. Then I simply reheat them in a large skillet over the campstove or fire grate.

~Debi

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Make-Ahead Apple Pie Filling

A friend of mine shared this recipe for make-ahead apple pie filling that I plan on using when the apples ripen later this year. You might want to keep it in your recipe files until apple season, too!

Make-Ahead Apple Pie Filling

  • 18 cups peeled apple slices

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 4 1/2 cups sugar

  • 1 cup cornstarch

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 10 cups water

In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice; set aside. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, combine sugar, cornstarch. cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add water; bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add apples; return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until the apples are tender, about 6-8 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes. Ladle into freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Cool at room temperature no longer than 1-1/2 hours. Seal and freeze; store up to 12 months. Yield: 5 1/2 qts. (enough for about five 9-inch pies).

~Debi

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