Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Great Knife: Wusthof!

I have a new favorite knife.  It's this Wusthof  Nakiri knife.  I read about it when the Pioneer Woman was giving one away on her blog.  When I didn't win . . .again . . . I found it online and ordered it.  I figured if the Pioneer Woman loves it, so will I.  I was so right.  It's just a great knife.  It slices through tomatoes like butter- always the true test of a knife.  I found mine on sale at Macy's and it came with this cutting board which I also really love.  I use both almost every day since I got it for Mother's Day in May.  How did I ever live without it???

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lower-fat Banana Bread

Even though the title of this Banana Bread has lower-fat in it, it is still moist and delicious! I'll be honest, I was grossed out at the recipes I was finding that had 2 cubes of butter in them so I googled "low-fat banana bread" wondering if it even existed. Sure enough, I found this little gem. Give it a try--I think you'll love it like my family does.


2/3 cup white sugar

1/8 cup of applesauce

2 eggs

1 cup mashed bananas

1/4 cup water

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2) In a medium bowl, beat the white sugar and applesauce until smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs, water and bananas with the sugar mixture until it is well blended.
3) Mix in the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder just until the mixture is moistened. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl to blend all ingredients.
4) Bake at 325 degrees F (175 degree C) for about 45 minutes. Bread is done when the top is firm to the touch and a golden brown color. Time will vary according to loaf size and oven type. When bread is removed from oven, allow it to cool on it's side for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a rack. This bread is also excellent if you add mini chocolate chips or small fruit pieces to the mix just before baking.

I doubled this recipe to make 2 loaves of bread. I still cooked both loaves at the same time for 40-45 minutes and they turned out great!

I made a couple of adjustments from a comment I found on the site, but here is the original source.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Barbecued Sea Scallops

When we were on vacation in Vail, Colorado, we got in the elevator with a lady who was headed down to the grill.  She had a plate of sea scallops ready to grill.  I couldn't resist asking her the recipe.  It's very simple.  We came home and tried it the next week.  I think my favorite protein is sea scallops.  I just love their texture and slightly sweet taste.  They are expensive, though.  I bought a bag at Costco and we used about half of the bag for this recipe.
Barbecued Sea Scallops
1 bag sea scallops
Old Bay Seasoning
1 stick Drawn Butter (see how to below)
Fresh lemon or lime juice

Mostly thaw 1/2 bag of scallops.  Rub with Old bay seasoning.  Old bay seasoning is very salty and strong in taste, so don't use too much.  Let scallops finish thawing.  Barbecue on grill.  The scallops are done when the flesh has just begun to turn from translucent to opaque and it flakes easily.  Don't overcook and dry them out.  Put them on a serving platter and cover them with drawn butter* and squeeze fresh lemon or lime on them.  Serve with more of the drawn butter and lemon wedges.

*Drawn Butter
Cut one stick butter into cubes.  Slowly heat in a saucepan until the butter melts and the solids have separated and are coming to the top.  Remove from the heat.  Skim the foam and solids off the top.  You should be left with a clear, golden liquid.  Pour the liquid into a serving cup.  Let cool, then skim any foam that appears.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Budget Meals

I recently taught a lesson for our relief society on budget meals.  I have copied and pasted my hand-out below.  I hope the you find it helpful!

Budget Meals
“Every herb . .  . And fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.” –D&C 89:11

Budget Friendly Recipes That I Use Regularly and Love
·         Red Lentil Soup -- Flavorful, easy, healthy, and inexpensive. About $1/serving. 
·         Crock-Pot Yogurt – Inexpensive, easy, healthy breakfast or snack.  According to my cost analysis, it is two to three times more expensive to buy yogurt in the quart-size tubs.  I make one gallon of yogurt every two weeks.  For flavoring, I like to add 2 Tablespoons of vanilla and 2/3 cup honey or agave. According to my cost analysis, this yogurt is about three times cheaper than buying yogurt in quart size containers at the store.
·         Granola – I use this recipe as a guide, but ratios and ingredients are incredibly flexible with granola.  Don’t be afraid to venture from this and try what works for you.  I love the fact that it is healthy, delicious, and my whole family loves it.  According to my cost analysis, it comes out to .32/serving.
·         Bean and Corn Salad – A quick, healthy go-to meal for days when you only have a half an hour.
·         Easy Olive Oil, Tomato, and Basil Pasta – Simple, delicious, and inexpensive.
·         Nectar of the Gods –Great for when tomatoes and basil are on sale in the summer.
·         Home-made Pizza – Though it takes a bit more time and planning, home-made pizza is a filling, delicious budget –friendly meal that will please the whole family.

Resources That I found Helpful
·         15 Dinners Under $1.50 per serving – Though I haven’t tried any of these yet, they look delicious, economical, and most require minimal preparation time.
·         Rachael Ray’s Budget Meals – Though these have a few “fancier” ingredients, overall they are still relatively inexpensive.  I have tried several of these meal ideas, and found them delicious, though a bit more time consuming.
·         Ten meals on $10 – Great list of meals that are all under $10 to feed a family of 4.
·         Canning and Preserving - Enjoy your harvest year-round by canning and preserving your summer bounty.

Staying within your food budget starts with good planning at home, before hitting the grocery store.  It requires a chunk of time and planning at the beginning of the two weeks, but it has saved me a great deal of stress, money, and time in last-minute trips to the supermarket to pick up needed ingredients.  I have outlined my method here

Home-made is money saved
Cut yourself a break! If you are cooking at home instead of eating out, you are saving a significant amount of money.  Anytime you cook at home instead of eating out or buying pre-made food, you are paying a fraction of the price.  So give yourself some credit and celebrate even your smallest efforts.

Overall, grains, fruits and veggies are the cheapest options.  Not only are they cheap, they are healthy and also what our Heavenly Father has said we should be eating (Doctrine and Covenants 89:16).

Cheaper Meal Planning

Just because you've reduced your food budget doesn't mean you have to sacrifice flavor.
Bring out big flavor with a small budget. Use these tips and meal ideas to create a variety of meals on the cheap.

Purposeful Shopping
Do you want to spend less money on food? Then plan ahead. Most shoppers waste money on impulse buys or last-minute trips to the supermarket for missing ingredients. When you're ready to put the skids on wasteful cash flow, try these purpose-driven strategies.
·         Sit down with supermarket sale circulars before heading to stores. Plan out menus
based on specials and in-season produce.
·         Always make out a shopping list. Shop and stick to the list.
·         Clip coupons from newspapers, magazines, or the Internet for products that you buy routinely. Take advantage of double coupons days or in-store specials.
·         Consider stocking up on frequently-used items while they're on sale.
·         Go through cabinets routinely to use up canned and boxed staples.  
·         Buy in bulk when the savings prove good.

Eating Ethnic
One of the simplest ways to cut costs is to dine globally. Make it an adventure for your family to try new cuisines. You'll learn fast what most foreign cooks already know: cooking with lots of vegetables and grains keeps food costs low.
·         Adopt an Asian mindset toward meals. Fill plates with vegetables and starches like rice and noodles. Let expensive meats and seafood, if you use them at all, act as flavorful condiments.
·         Play around with spices. Indian cooks add ingredients like coriander, cumin, and turmeric to build depth in dishes that contain large amounts of vegetables or lentils.
·         Focus on whole grains. Italian cooks stock the cabinet with dry pastas (either regular or whole wheat varieties), and add roasted vegetable sauces, tomato sauce, or a sauce where meat is a minor player.

Meatless Mondays
Meat, poultry, and fish account for the lion's share of most grocery bills. You don't need to give them up altogether, just cut back.
·         Make the usual roast chicken but put out a wide assortment of vegetables, potatoes, and sides. Aim to fill two-thirds of the plate with side dishes and just one-third with meat.
·         Shop for less expensive cuts of meat and use them in stews or soups.
·         Serve casseroles as the main course rather than dishing up meat and potatoes.
·         Stretch meat by adding grains and vegetables to dishes. Add pasta noodles or bulgur to chicken salad. Mix ground beef and beans to fill tacos rather than using meat alone.
·         Serve breakfast for dinner. Omelets, pancakes, and French toast are inexpensive entrees.
·         Try going meatless at one meal each week. Start with simple, well-loved items like
macaroni and cheese. Branch out to ethnic repasts like lentil dals or pasta e fagioli.

Cheaper Meal Planning courtesy of Maureen Callahan from

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pasta with Roasted Summer Vegetables

Are you looking for something new to do with all those fresh veggies coming from your garden? This recipe is definitely worth a try! It is delicious!
 I made it tonight and steeled myself for an onslaught of complaints from my 3 children when they saw big pieces of vegetable staring them in the face. It never came. And that is remarkable. The first comment I heard was, "This is yummy pasta!" We all loved it. It is the perfect, fresh summer meal. 
The veggies called for in the recipe could easily be substituted for the fresh veggies that you have. I did green beans instead of tomatoes and yellow onions instead of red. 

2 pound(s) summer squash, (about 4), halved lengthwise if large, sliced crosswise 1 inch thick
2 pint(s) grape or cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup(s) olive oil
8 ounce(s) short pasta shape, such as campanelle or fusilli (I used pasta shells)
2 tablespoons  unsalted butter
1/2 cup(s) Parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus more for serving
1 cup(s) fresh basil leaves, firmly packed and torn (I didn’t use nearly this much to suit my own taste)
2 red onions, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
4 clove(s) garlic, crushed
Coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Divide squash, tomatoes, onions, and garlic between two large rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat and then spread evenly. Roast (without tossing) until tender and starting to brown, 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil; add a generous amount of salt. Cook pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Drain, and return to pot.

Add roasted vegetables, butter, Parmesan  and basil to pot; season with salt and pepper, and toss gently with pasta to combine. Reheat over medium-low if necessary before serving.

In order to give credit where credit is due, I got this Martha Stewart recipe here.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Meat Grilling Marinade

This yummy marinade works great on chicken, beef, or pork for grilling. It adds delicious flavor to meat you're grilling.
I first tasted it when some friends had us for dinner. They grilled chicken, and I had to ask for the recipe it was so moist, tender, and delicious.  I've only tried it on chicken, but she said it worked great on beef and pork as well.

Chicken (or beef or pork) Marinade for grilling
1 1/2 cups olive oil
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground pepper
1/2 cup wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend well.  Put chicken breasts or other meat in a ziplock bag.  Pour the marinade over all and seal the bag.  Knead the bag a bit to make sure all the meat is covered.  Put in the fridge overnight.  Grill.

For other yummy marinades click here or here or here.  I have one I love for salmon which I'll publish soon.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

What's For Dinner? August

So, what's for dinner in August, you ask?   Here's what we're having:
Thai Chicken Noodles (can't wait to try this new one from Kristen)

Creamy Chicken Pasta Casserole (I love this pasta casserole!)


Tasty Lentil Tacos ( a new meatless recipe from Michelle)

Beef and Brocolli over Rice

BLT Salad/ Tomato Herb Focaccia (this bread is SO good)

Baked Eggs/ Toast/ Orange Julius

Philly Steak Sandwiches
Completos- Oh yum, Can't wait!!!
Salsa Chicken Burritos ( a Crockpot recipe that is easy and yummy)
Easy Black Bean Soup (Shonna's great recipe that is so easy and so yummy!)

New Recipes to Try this Month:
French Bread Pizza
Applebee's Quesadilla Burger/ Chips/ Garden in a Bowl Salsa

Chicken Pot Pie
Ken's Luscious Lemon Pie

Wendy's Frosty