Gooey Bars — Frugal Homemade

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Gooey Bars

This week’s Frugal Homemade features Gooey Bars: Another version of the Whatever-ya-have Cookies recipe from a few months ago, but this time in bar form. With toasted coconut. And caramel. How can you go wrong with chocolate, caramel, and toasted coconut? So, in the spirit of Cars Being in the Shop & the Stockpile Running Low (bad couponer!) I whipped up a batch of these delicious, ooey, gooey bars with a few simple ingredients you also probably have on hand.

Try to save some for your family. 😉

Gooey Bars

Gooey Bar ingredients

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup pecans (optional)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup caramel sauce (Recipe from Yammie’s Noshery here — I had some left over from the amazing cheesecake recipe found in the same link.)

Gooey Bars dish

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray and lining it with parchment paper. (Let the paper hang over the short sides so you can easily lift the bars out of the dish.)

Cream butter and brown sugar. Add salt, baking soda, and flour. Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and pecans. Mix well & pour into prepared baking dish. Smooth with a spatula so it spreads into the whole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, until the bars are almost cooked through.

Top with coconut and bake for an additional 3-4 minutes until the coconut is toasted and the bars are cooked through. Drizzle with caramel sauce and let cool. Remove from baking dish by pulling up the parchment paper. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Easy print version

Gooey Bars -- Frugal Homemade
 
This week's Frugal Homemade feature is a recipe for Gooey Bars. With toasted coconut. And caramel. How can you go wrong with chocolate, caramel & toasted coconut? Try to save some for your family. ;)
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Gooey Bars
Serves: 12 bars
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1½ cups brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1¾ cups flour
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • ½ cup pecans (optional)
  • 1½ cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup caramel sauce (Recipe from Yammie's Noshery. I had some leftover from the amazing cheesecake recipe found in the same link.)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare a 9x13 baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray and lining it with parchment paper.(Let the paper hang over the short sides so you can easily lift the bars out of the dish.)
  3. Cream butter and brown sugar.
  4. Add salt, baking soda, and flour.
  5. Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and pecan.
  6. Mix well & pour into prepared baking dish.
  7. Smooth with a spatula so it spreads into the whole dish.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, until the bars are almost cooked through.
  9. Top with coconut and bake for an additional 3-4 minutes until the coconut is toasted and the bars are cooked through.
  10. Drizzle with caramel sauce and let cool.
  11. Remove from baking dish by pulling up the parchment paper.
  12. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Copycat P.F. Chang’s Spicy Green Beans

Posts on Mashup Mom may contain affiliate links. Please see disclosure and disclaimer here.

copycat-pf-changs-spicy-green-beans

Welcome back to Sunday Scratchups, your weekly recipe from scratch around grocery store matchups, coupons, and sales. I do adore the Spicy Green Beans at P.F. Chang’s, but don’t adore the price. This sale week for green beans seemed like a good time to play around and see how close I could get to the original — fresh green beans are currently $.69/lb at Caputo’s, for instance, but I got mine for $.88/lb at Pete’s Market. Either way, cheaper than you’ll pay for that tiny yet oh so tasty restaurant side, right? :)

pf-changs-spicy-green-beans-5

These didn’t come out quite the same as at P.F. Chang’s, but they’re close — and they’re spicy garlicky good.

Copycat P.F. Chang’s Spicy Green Beans

pf-changs-spicy-green-beans-the-beans

Ingredients

3/4 lb fresh green beans
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1.5 Tbsp minced garlic
Crushed red pepper, to taste

For the sauce

1 tsp chopped green onions
1 Tbsp soy sauce (use gluten free if necessary)
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
1/2 tsp sugar

Directions

Wash and trim green beans, then cut them into fairly even pieces. In separate bowl, mix green onions, soy sauce, rice vinegar, chili garlic sauce, and sugar.

pf-changs-spicy-green-beans-in-pan-2

In large pan or wok, heat sesame oil over medium-high heat, then add garlic. Saute about 30 seconds, then add green beans and crushed red pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes until bright green, stirring often. Stir in sauce and cook just until heated through, then serve.

Spicy garlicky good

pf-changs-spicy-green-beans-with-sauce

I think next time I might omit the sugar and up the chili garlic sauce/red pepper, just for my own taste — but these green beans turned out great as-is! Copycat P.F. Chang’s Spicy Green Beans would make a great side for something like Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps, and were tasty or without rice. Do be sure just to cook them crisp-tender in order to let the fresh green bean flavor really shine through.

Easy print version

Copycat P.F. Chang's Spicy Green Beans
 
Author:
Recipe type: side
Ingredients
  • ¾ lb fresh green beans
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1.5 Tbsp minced garlic
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste
For the sauce
  • 1 tsp chopped green onions
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce (use gluten free if necessary)
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • ½ tsp sugar
Instructions
  1. Wash and trim green beans, then cut them into fairly even pieces.
  2. In separate bowl, mix green onions, soy sauce, rice vinegar, chili garlic sauce, and sugar.
  3. In large pan or wok, heat sesame oil over medium-high heat, then add garlic.
  4. Saute about 30 seconds, then add green beans and crushed red pepper.
  5. Cook for 3-4 minutes until bright green, stirring often.
  6. Stir in sauce and cook just until heated through, then serve.

Easy Weeknight Pasta with Shrimp, Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms, and Spinach — Frugal Homemade

Posts on Mashup Mom may contain affiliate links. Please see disclosure and disclaimer here.

shrimp pasta 3

This week’s Frugal Homemade feature is Pasta with Shrimp, Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms, and Spinach. Since we have caramelized onions in ready supply, I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen. Last night I expanded upon the usual “shrimp pasta with cream sauce” and whipped up something a little more flavorful!

shrimp 1

Easy Weeknight Pasta with Shrimp, Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms, and Spinach

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms
3/4 lb shrimp
1 1/2 cups caramelized onions
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 cups fresh spinach
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt to taste
16 oz box pasta

shrimp pasta 2

Directions

Boil water and prepare pasta according to package directions. Clean shrimp. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan and saute mushrooms over medium heat. When the mushrooms begin to brown & soften, add shrimp, caramelized onions, and pine nuts. Saute the shrimp with mushrooms & pine nuts until the shrimp are nearly cooked through, then add your remaining tablespoon of olive oil if necessary. Add spinach and saute just until spinach cooks down. Add cream, milk, and balsamic vinegar, then simmer until thickened and salt to taste.

Spoon over pasta & enjoy!

Easy print version

Easy Weeknight Pasta with Shrimp, Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms, and Spinach -- Frugal Homemade
 
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • ¾ lb shrimp
  • 1½ cups
  • caramelized onions -- http://www.mashupmom.com/slow-cooker-caramelized-onions-frugal-homemade-plus-french-onion-soup-recipe/
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 3 cups fresh spinach
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • 16 oz box pasta
Instructions
  1. Boil water and prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. Clean shrimp.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan and saute mushrooms over medium heat.
  4. When the mushrooms begin to brown & soften, add shrimp, caramelized onions, and pine nuts.
  5. Saute the shrimp with mushrooms & pine nuts until the shrimp are nearly cooked through, then add your remaining tablespoon of olive oil if necessary.
  6. Add spinach and saute just until spinach cooks down.
  7. Add cream, milk, and balsamic vinegar, then simmer until thickened and salt to taste.
  8. Spoon over pasta & enjoy!

Gluten Free Dairy Free Banana Pancakes

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gluten-free-dairy-free-banana-pancakes

Welcome back to Sunday Scratchups, your weekly recipe from scratch around grocery store matchups, coupons, and sales. This week bananas are again on sale all over town: $.38/lb at Mariano’s, $.33/lb at Caputo’s, $.38/lb at Pete’s Market, $.29/lb at select Jewels, and we also have a $.25 offer back on Checkout 51.

banana-pancakes-3

Last week Mr. 8 and I scratched up some delicious (yet not allergy friendly) Kid-Friendly Banana Bread. Luckily we had a couple of overripe bananas leftover to make these equally awesome Gluten Free Dairy Free Banana Pancakes for Junior High Guy, too!

banana-peelerIgnore the messy counter… these are not the droids you are looking for…

This easy-peasy single flour recipe is another great one to get the kids involved in cooking, with some fairly instant gratification as the pancakes come off the griddle. (Um, the pan — I don’t actually own a griddle, but doesn’t it sound better here?) I modified our favorite Brown Rice Flour Pancakes recipe to come up with the following.

Gluten Free Dairy Free Banana Pancakes

banana-pancakes-7

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice flour
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp gluten free baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 overripe bananas
1/4 cup dairy free mini chocolate chips (optional — blueberries would also be great!)

Directions

Whisk together rice flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in large bowl. Add eggs, vanilla, and vanilla almond milk and whisk until blended. Peel and slice bananas, add to batter, and whisk until blended nicely. Stir in chocolate chips or blueberries, if using.

banana-pancakes-on-the-pan

Spray cast iron skillet generously with gluten free non-stick spray. Heat on medium, adding batter for your first pancake only when pan is completely hot. Cook on one side until bubbles form on the top, then flip and cook until browned on the other side. Note: Make your pancakes small — the bananas make the dough a bit goopier, so they are hard to flip and don’t cook through as well when they are large.

Enjoy!

banana-pancake-tower

Y-U-M: These are like banana bread wrapped up in a pancake! The recipe made a lot of pancakes, but they kept well in the refrigerator overnight and reheated nicely — I’m sure they’d also freeze well. Junior High Guy just walked behind me and asked when we’re making these again, so I’d say they were a hit. 😉

Easy print version

Gluten Free Dairy Free Banana Pancakes
 
Author:
Recipe type: breakfast
Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 overripe bananas
  • ¼ cup dairy free mini chocolate chips (optional — blueberries would also be great!)
Instructions
  1. Whisk together rice flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in large bowl.
  2. Add eggs, vanilla, and vanilla almond milk and whisk until blended.
  3. Peel and slice bananas, add to batter, and whisk until blended nicely.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips or blueberries, if using.
  5. Spray cast iron skillet generously with gluten free non-stick spray.
  6. Heat on medium, adding batter for your first pancake only when pan is completely hot.
  7. Cook on one side until bubbles begin to form on the top, then flip and cook until browned on the other side.
  8. Note: Make your pancakes small -- the bananas make the dough a bit goopier, so they are hard to flip and don't cook through as well when they are large.

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions — Frugal Homemade (Plus French onion soup recipe!)

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caramelized onion picture recipe

This week’s Frugal Homemade feature is caramelized onions. These are so easy and so good! I first fell in love with caramelized onions at a Williams-Sonoma cooking class years (and years and years) ago and have been using them in recipes ever since. When there’s a great sale on onions I stock up and make enough to freeze and use for the next few months.

Recently onions were on sale at ALDI. Three pounds for $.69? Sold! I bought 9 pounds, because they really shrink down as they cook.

Easy Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

Ready? This is SO easy.

Peel your onions & slice them. Put them in your slow cooker, add 9 tablespoons of butter (1 tablespoon per pound) and cook them on low all day. No, really: ALL DAY. Cook them 12, 15, even 18 hours — until they are a caramel color you are happy with and the flavor is perfect for your taste buds! The longer the better, in my opinion. I have an average sized slow cooker and 9 pounds doesn’t fit all at once. So as they cook down, just keep adding more onion slices until they are all in there. Cook them & then cook them some more.

That’s it. Let cool and freeze in portion sizes that work for you.

caramelized onions 4

Ideas on where to use caramelized onions?

  • On sandwiches — patty melts, roast beef, mozzarella & tomato, grilled cheese… really anything!
  • On burgers — turkey or beef
  • On steaks
  • On baked potatoes
  • In veggie quesadillas
  • In pasta dishes
  • In French onion soup
  • With pork roast or pork chops
  • In mushroom risotto
  • On pizza
  • On bruschetta
  • In meatloaf
  • French bread with garlic, caramelized onions, and a savory cheese

Bonus Easy French Onion soup recipe

Here is one recipe we love for Easy French Onion Soup using caramelized onions.

Ingredients

1 cup caramelized onions
1 tablespoon flour
Two 14-15 oz cans of beef broth
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
2 1/2 cups of water
1 loaf of hearty French bread
Sliced provolone cheese (some people prefer Swiss, use what you like!)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a pot, saute 1 cup of caramelized onions for a minute or two. Stir in 1 tablespoon of flour until the onions thicken up a bit.
Add beef broth, red wine, and water.
Simmer for 10 minutes.
Slice bread into 1/2″ slices and lightly toast at 350 degrees while the soup is simmering. Remove bread from oven and increase temperature to 425 degrees.
Place 4 oven safe bowls on a cookie sheet.
After the soup has simmered and the bread has toasted, ladle soup into the bowls, place a piece of toasted bread in each bowl, and top with a slice of provolone cheese.
Bake at 425 degrees until cheese is melted, 5 minutes or so.

Makes 4 servings, approximately 1.5 cups each.

Easy print version

French Onion Soup -- Frugal Homemade
 
Here is the recipe we love for French Onion soup using caramelized onions.
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Dinner-Lunch-Appetizer
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup caramelized onions
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Two 14-15 oz cans of beef broth
  • ½ cup red wine (optional)
  • 2½ cups of water
  • 1 loaf of hearty French bread
  • Sliced provolone cheese (some people prefer Swiss, use what you like!)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a pot, saute 1 cup of caramelized onions for a minute or two. Stir in 1 tablespoon of flour until the onions thicken up a bit.
  3. Add beef broth, red wine, and water.
  4. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Slice bread into ½" slices and lightly toast at 350 degrees while the soup is simmering. Remove bread from oven and increase temperature to 425 degrees.
  6. Place 4 oven safe bowls on a cookie sheet.
  7. After the soup has simmered and the bread has toasted, ladle soup into the bowls, place a piece of toasted bread in each bowl, and top with a slice of provolone cheese.
  8. Bake at 425 degrees until cheese is melted, 5 minutes or so.
  9. Makes 4 servings, approximately 1.5 cups each.

Zaycon + Chicken Soup for the Soul — Buffalo BBQ Chicken Recipe + giveaway

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Chicken Soup for the Soul and Zaycon Foods provided me with complimentary products. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

zaycon-buffalo-bbq-chicken

Check this out: Zaycon Fresh has teamed up with Chicken Soup for the Soul, partnering in offering more varieties of fresh and wholesome food outside of traditional retail channels. They sent over some of their products so that I could check them out and review for you guys, and they worked great together in this easy family-friendly recipe. Slow cooking the chicken in broth before shredding made it super flavorful and moist, and the Buffalo BBQ sauce turned out to be only mildly spicy, which made Mr. 8’s day.

Easy Peasy Crock Pot Buffalo BBQ Chicken Recipe

bbq-buffalo-chicken-wrap5

No lie, guys: I made this super easy four ingredient recipe twice over the past week, since all the boys in this house liked it so much. And, since it uses exactly half a bottle of Chicken Soup for the Soul Buffalo BBQ sauce and half the box of broth, there’s no waste if you either double the recipe or make it twice. Perfect! (Plus, both the broth and the sauce are gluten free, dairy free, meaning that Junior High Guy could enjoy his on a gluten free bun or lettuce wrap.)

buffalo-ingredients

Ingredients

1.75-2 lbs Zaycon boneless skinless chicken breast
1 tsp minced garlic
16 oz (two cups) Chicken Soup for the Soul reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup Chicken Soup for the Soul Buffalo BBQ sauce

Directions

Add chicken, garlic, and broth to your slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Remove chicken to a separate large bowl and shred. Discard broth, then add shredded chicken back to the slow cooker. Stir in Buffalo BBQ sauce and cook on low another 20-30 minutes until heated through. Serve wrapped in lettuce or on a bun!

Seriously, they devoured this

chicken-soup-goofball

Dinner for all the boys — Crock Pot Buffalo BBQ Chicken was a little carb-y for MashupDad, but he muscled through a heaping lettuce wrap all the same. (And the BBQ sauce has no HFCS, by the way, for those of you sticking with real sugar varieties!) This recipe even inspired Junior High Guy to show us how he can cross… just one eye. How we got there, I don’t know, but a super easy weeknight family dinner for all. Good food = good conversation, and easy dinners = happy Mom.

Want more?

If you’re inspired by my recipe above, find more Chicken Soup for the Soul recipes here.

On to the giveaway

chicken-soup-broth

What can you win?

  • One lucky Mashup Mom reader will win a Chicken Soup for the Soul chicken broth and Chicken Soup for the Soul: From Lemons to Lemonade.

How do you enter?

  • Required entry: Just comment here and let us know what you’d make with Zaycon chicken and/or Chicken Soup for the Soul products!
  • BONUS entry: Sign up for the Chicken Soup for the Soul daily newsletter, then come back here and comment affirming you have done so.

One entry per comment; each comment is an entry; a maximum of two entries per household; duplicate entries will be deleted. Only comment a maximum of twice on this post; your comment enters you in the giveaway. Enter through 11:59 PM Central on 4/20/15. U.S. residents only, please. If you are reading this through email or Facebook, please click on the title of this post (up at the top where it says “Zaycon + Chicken Soup…”) to go back to the blog. Scroll down to the bottom of the post and you will see a box to enter your comment; just comment there to enter. Email and Facebook entries will not be counted. If you are reading the Mashup Mom homepage on the web, look at the bottom of this post where it says “___ comments.” Click on that to get the box to enter your own comment.

The fine print

Prizing and information for this giveaway has been provided by Chicken Soup for the Soul. The winner will be randomly selected from all comments received on or around 4/21/15. Winner will have 48 hours to reply to email notification; if no reply is received, a runner up will be selected. Mashup Mom is not responsible for lost or misdirected emails.

No purchase necessary. The number of eligible entries receives determines the odds of winning. Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited. Please allow 8 weeks for delivery of your prize. We reserve the right to cancel this promotion at any time or to substitute a prize of equal value.

Kid-Friendly Banana Bread

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kid-friendly-banana-bread

Welcome back to Sunday Scratchups, your weekly recipe from scratch around grocery store matchups, coupons, and sales. This week bananas are on sale: Mariano’s has Chiquita bananas $.38/lb, and you could also pick up a couple for free at Target after cash back rebates.

bananaboy7

Allison recently shared her recipe for Best Ever Banana Bread, so I know it’s kind of silly to post another banana bread recipe so soon — but check out my kitchen helper up there and tell me how you could say no to this face? Buoyed by our recent success with Bee-bim Bop, Mr. 8 declared that we’d be making banana bread next. We went to the library, he chose a children’s cookbook with a recipe he liked, and we baked the Bodacious Banana Bread recipe from Cool Quick Breads: Easy Recipes for Kids to Bake.

bananabread3

Mr. 8 made the following additions to the original recipe: Cinnamon (“because it should be cinnamon-y, Mom!”) and walnuts (“because I like nuts”). We also didn’t bother to sift the flour. The most difficult part of this recipe? Waiting for the bananas to ripen! We probably should have given them another couple of days, but the recipe turned out great nonetheless.

Kid-Friendly Banana Bread

bananas-mr-8

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
3-4 overripe bananas (we used three, but they were pretty large)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in large mixing bowl. In separate bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. (I didn’t bother pulling out the mixer here, and just hand-whisked everything.) Add sugar and eggs to the butter and mix well. Peel bananas, then chop into coins and add to the egg mixture and whisk until just mixed in. Stir in dry ingredients until just mixed. Stir in walnuts, then pour batter into greased loaf pan. Bake for about 60 minutes at 350 degrees, or until knife inserted in middle of loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool as much as you can stand it before slicing.

Now that’s good banana bread

bananabread2

I’d probably up the cinnamon to a whole tsp, but still! Mr. 8 declared this the best thing we’ve ever made. It always tastes better when you make it yourself, though, doesn’t it? He’s still pondering our next cooking adventure…

Easy print version

Kid-Friendly Banana Bread
 
Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Ingredients
  • 1¾ cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup butter
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3-4 overripe bananas (we used three, but they were pretty large)
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in large mixing bowl.
  2. In separate bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. (I didn't bother pulling out the mixer here, and just hand-whisked everything.)
  3. Add sugar and eggs to the butter and mix well.
  4. Peel bananas, then chop into coins and add to the egg mixture and whisk until just mixed in.
  5. Stir in dry ingredients until just mixed.
  6. Stir in walnuts, then pour batter into greased loaf pan.
  7. Bake for about 60 minutes at 350 degrees, or until knife inserted in middle of loaf comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool as much as you can stand it before slicing.

Florida Tomatoes — Good, Good for You, and Bonus Easy Recipes!

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This post has been sponsored by The Florida Tomato Committee. All opinions here, however, are my own.

florida-tomatoes

If you’re here with me in Illinois, you know that our weather is not particularly conducive to growing fresh tomatoes year-round — even in April, when the sun has finally come out today. Lucky for us and our lycopene needs, though, we have access to fresh, ripe tomatoes year round from sunnier climes, such as Florida!

The Florida Tomato Committee has put together a series of really cute animated web video shorts for you to check out here — Mr. 8 was standing behind me a minute ago literally chortling over these videos, which tell the story of how Florida tomatoes are nutritious and delicious with the help of some alligator friends. The goal here?

“For generations, Florida tomatoes have been grown, hand picked and cared for on family run farms,” says Samantha Daves, Director of Education and Promotion for the Florida Tomato Committee. “Our goal in this marketing campaign was to develop a set of videos that educate the public about how Florida tomatoes are grown and what makes them so nutritious, delicious and different from the rest. The video series and supporting digital content on the Florida tomatoes site and social media channels will demonstrate that the Florida family of tomato growers are committed to healthful and sustainable farming practices that result in the most red, ripe, nutritious and delicious tomatoes available.”

If you’ve been following my weekly Sunday Scratchups recipes here, you know I use tomatoes pretty often — plus they’re one of the few fruits both kids can agree on.

My easiest peasiest fresh tomatoes recipes

Easy Fire Roasted Tomatoes

remove-skins-from-tomatoes-on-cookie-sheetFirst up: Easy Fire Roasted Tomatoes. If you guys haven’t tried doing this yourself, you’re missing out. Try roasting up a fresh batch of these and then add to your next soup or chili for an amazing flavor. You’ll want 20-25 small to medium ripe Roma tomatoes here. Cut off the stem ends and slice in half. Spray a rimmed cookie sheet with cooking spray and place tomatoes cut side down on sheet. Broil on the top rack for 20 minutes, flipping pan around halfway through for more even charring. Let these cool a bit, and the skins will slide right off. Chop tomatoes and some of the charred skins, then use in your favorite recipe.

(Makes about the equivalent of a 28 oz can, but with no additives and really nice flavor.)

Simple Spinach Caprese Salad

close-up-caprese-saladOr why not throw together a simple Caprese salad with spinach, if you have some vine ripe tomatoes begging to be enjoyed fresh. Cover a dinner plate with about 2 oz of fresh spinach leaves, then alternate layers of mozzarella fresca slices, fresh tomato slices, and fresh basil leaves. When entire plate is covered, just drizzle with 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, then add a little Kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Serve immediately for the prettiest presentation or chill for about an hour first, depending on your preference. This can make for an easy & healthy meal on its own, or serve as a hearty side with a lighter entree.

Got tomatoes?

So, the next time you pick up some fresh Florida tomatoes: Give one of these recipes a try — or share your own favorite fresh tomatoes recipes in comments here. :)

Leftover Ham Soup

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leftover-ham-soup

Welcome back to Sunday Scratchups, your weekly recipe from scratch around grocery store matchups, coupons, and sales. You may not have noticed… 😉 but everyone and their brother had ham on sale this week for Easter! So now… you likely have some leftover ham lying around. (If you’re instead looking for a soup recipe that uses up the ham bone, check out Slow Cooker Ham Bone Vegetable Soup or Spicy Ham Bone Slow Cooker Soup.)

leftover-ham

If you just have some leftover ham slices handy, though, read on for this Leftover Ham Soup I scratched up earlier this week with what I had in the house + some cooked ham I pulled out of the freezer. This is one I’m definitely going to mess with more, but it was tasty as is — and a great base for whatever veggies and other leftovers you might need to use up from your fridge, too.

nostalgia-broth

While I was poking around looking for potential soup ingredients, I found my very last box of Safeway Kitchens chicken stock from the Dominick’s clearance sales over a year ago. This was amazingly less than a month out from its “best by” date, and I used it… So this particular batch of Leftover Ham Soup was flavored partially with nostalgia!

Leftover Ham Soup

soup-closeup-6

Ingredients

Olive oil
2 ribs celery, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
21 baby carrots (about 2 regular?), chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
6 oz sliced mushrooms
1 lb cooked ham, diced
32 oz unsalted chicken stock
2 cans cannellini beans
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 tsp thyme
black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 cup cauliflower florets
sea salt
Garnish with optional green onions and bacon bits

Directions

In large pot, saute celery, onion, carrots, and 1 tsp garlic in olive oil over medium until onions are browned and veggies begin to soften. Add mushrooms and saute a few more minutes until mushrooms are browned. Reduce heat to low and add ham, chicken stock, one can of cannellini beans with liquid, water, thyme, cayenne, bay leaf, and pepper. Simmer on low for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

puree

When you’re 45 minutes into simmering, saute 1 tsp minced garlic in separate large pan for 30 seconds. Add one can of cannellini beans with liquid, the cauliflower florets, and a little sea salt. Stir, cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes or until soft. Puree in food processor.

soup-after-puree

Remove bay leaf from soup, stir in the cauliflower/bean puree, and heat through. Serve garnished with bacon bits and green onions.

Mmm, soupy

soup-bowls-4

Mission accomplished! This gluten free*, dairy free soup recipe has odd measurements like “6 oz mushrooms” and “21 baby carrots” and “one cup cauliflower florets” because I was using up stuff from the fridge upon our return from vacation earlier this week, but it all came together into a pretty tasty soup. Here’s what I plan to change up next time I experiment with Leftover Ham Soup:

  • Reduce the ham to about 12 oz instead of 16 oz, dice it smaller, and add more veggies.
  • Add another can of cannellini beans to the soup.
  • Add more cauliflower to the puree — you couldn’t taste it at all, and I’m going to try three cups to help make the soup creamier yet still dairy free.
  • Maybe some diced potato, too…

Don’t get me wrong — this was good as is and a great way to use up some leftovers — but I think it has the potential to be even better! What would you add?

* Just ensure you use gluten free chicken stock and ham to keep this entirely GF!

Easy print version

Leftover Ham Soup
 
Author:
Recipe type: soup
Ingredients
  • Olive oil
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 21 baby carrots (about 2 regular?), chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 6 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 lb cooked ham, diced
  • 32 oz unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 cans cannellini beans
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • sea salt
  • Garnish with optional green onions and bacon bits
Instructions
  1. In large pot, saute celery, onion, carrots, and 1 tsp garlic in olive oil over medium until onions are browned and veggies begin to soften.
  2. Add mushrooms and saute a few more minutes until mushrooms are browned.
  3. Reduce heat to low and add ham, chicken stock, one can of cannellini beans with liquid, water, thyme, cayenne, bay leaf, and pepper.
  4. Simmer on low for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
  5. When you're 45 minutes into simmering, saute 1 tsp minced garlic in separate large pan for 30 seconds.
  6. Add one can of cannellini beans with liquid, the cauliflower florets, and a little sea salt.
  7. Stir, cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes or until soft.
  8. Puree in food processor.
  9. Remove bay leaf from soup, stir in the cauliflower/bean puree, and heat through.
  10. Serve garnished with bacon bits and green onions.

Homemade Stir Fry Sauce — Frugal Homemade

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stir fry 3

This week’s Frugal Homemade features homemade stir fry sauce — Super easy to make, and a lot healthier than the bottled sauce or packet! I’ve been trying to make more “from scratch” lately, in addition to buying the organic version of more of our favorite foods. After fiddling with some stir fry sauce combinations, this is the one we’ve decided we like the best.

Homemade Stir Fry Sauce

stir fry ingredients

Ingredients

4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 tablespoons broth (beef, chicken, or vegetable depending on what type of stir fry you are making)

That’s it — Told you this was super easy!

stir fry 2

Directions

Combine all stir fry sauce ingredients and stir. Prepare rice according to package directions. Saute your chicken or beef, then add vegetables once the meat is almost cooked through. (Here, I used chicken and thinly sliced red & yellow peppers, along with a small onion.) Once the meat & vegetables are sauteed, pour stir fry sauce mixture into the pan and reduce a bit.

Spoon chicken, vegetables, and stir fry sauce over rice & enjoy your quick and easy weeknight dinner!

Easy print version

Homemade Stir Fry Sauce -- Frugal Homemade
 
This week's Frugal Homemade features homemade stir fry sauce -- super easy to make and a lot healthier than the bottled sauce or packet!
Author:
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Stir Fry
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons broth (beef, chicken, or vegetable depending on what type of stir fry you are making)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients and stir.
  2. Prepare rice according to package.
  3. Saute your chicken or beef and add vegetables once the meat is almost cooked through. (I used chicken and thinly sliced red & yellow peppers, along with a small onion.)
  4. Once the chicken or beef & vegetables are sauteed, pour stir fry sauce mixture into the pan and reduce a bit.
  5. Spoon chicken, vegetables, & stir fry sauce over rice, & enjoy your quick weeknight dinner!