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A bread machines is a versatile and frugal kitchen appliance. Here are a few tips for creating simple meal-starters using your bread machine:

If you have a few hours at home, put your bread machine to work and mix up some pizza or bread dough. Then, place the dough in an oiled gallon-sized bag and save it in the freezer for a day when you don’t have time to make dough. Defrost the dough in the refrigerator (or on the counter briefly) and get a head start on your pizza dinner on a busy day.

Make mini-pizzas: here’s an alternative to buying processed frozen pizzas for your kids. Instead of freezing one whole bag of pizza dough, cut the dough into 4-6 small pieces and freeze them separately in oiled sandwich bags. Also put together sandwich bags of pizza or spaghetti sauce and bags containing a small amount of mozzarella cheese and other toppings. In the morning, place each bag in the fridge to thaw, and at dinner you can create a mini pizza for each child in less than 10 minutes!



This recipe comes from my mom, who got it from her childhood friend’s mother.  I believe it is supposed to taste like the cornbread at Marie Callendar’s restaurant, but my husband insists that it is much better. 🙂

Fabulous Cornbread

3 eggs, beaten
1 c. milk
1/2 c. melted butter
2 c. Bisquick (I’ve even been known to use homemade wheat pancake mix)
1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 8×8 pan or regular loaf pan (the loaf pan will take longer to cook). Blend eggs, milk, and butter. Sift sugar and baking powder into separate bowl, then stir in the cornmeal and mix well. Add the cornmeal mixture and Bisquick to egg-milk mixture and stir with a wooden spoon only until blended. Pour batter into greased pan and bake 30-40 minutes.  Enjoy with a great soup or chili.

I don’t remember where I found this recipe.  I’m sure it was on another blog, but I cannot remember where. I’ve also changed it just a tiny bit… but I still wish I could give the other blog some credit.  

Everyone who tries this pizza dough says it is amazing, and asks for the recipe. So, here it is:

The Best Pizza Dough

1 1/3 c. water
2 t. sugar
1 1/4 t. salt
2 T. olive oil
2 T. cornmeal
3 1/ c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. onion powder
2 t. yeast

Put all of these ingredients in that order into your bread machine. Run the dough setting, then remove and make the pizza of your choice. Or, you can check out my original Easy Pizza Dough recipe for more tips on using the dough.

I’ve been meaning to share this recipe with several of my friends for weeks now.  Finally, here it is.  I’m sorry it has taken so long! 

I just made this for dinner tonight, and it is always so good.  I’m sure it is intended to be a side dish, but we eat it as a vegetarian main dish because it is just so healthy and yummy and filling. Tonight, we had this hot casserole with cooked sweet potatoes on the side.

Lentil & Brown Rice Casserole

2 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 c. dried brown lentils, rinsed
1/2 c. uncooked brown rice
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 t. dried basil
1/4 t. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/8 t. pepper
1 c. diced tomatoes (or canned stewed tomatoes)
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. shredded swiss, cheddar, or other cheese

In a 2 quart baking dish coated with nonstick spray, combine first 9 ingredients. Cover, and bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and salt, cover, bake 20-30 minutes more, until rice and lentils are tender. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake uncovered for 5 minutes more.

That’s it! This is healthy comfort food!

Because I just wrote about all of the cooking I have been doing this year, I thought it would be nice to share some of the links and recipes I’ve found.  There are so many incredible bloggers and cooks out there who have made it so easy to find out how to make just about anything!

Here is a fabulous blog post that explains how to make homemade yogurt with your crockpot.

My new favorite soup that uses any beans that I happen to have cooked, as well as fresh spinach.

Money Saving Mom is a great blog that keeps me thinking frugally and creatively.

Right now, I’m especially interested in finding great recipes that use dried beans and lentils, so I’ll be sharing the best recipes that I find (after I test them and make sure that they’re good enough to repeat).

Kids love this casserole, and it is so easy to make!  It’s kind of like a healthy, homemade version of hamburger helper.

Cheesy Noodle Casserole

8 oz egg noodles, cooked
1 lb. ground turkey
1 med. onion, chopped
1 (15oz) jar spaghetti sauce
1 (10oz) can cheddar soup
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. thyme
1/4 t. pepper
1 c. shredded jack or cheddar cheese

In large skillet, brown turkey and onion.  Stir in remaining ingredients except cheese and noodles; simmer 3-4 minutes.  Place cooked noodles in a large bowl.  Pour turkey mix over noodles and mix well.  Pour into 13×9 pan.  Cover with foil and bake 35-40 minutes.  Uncover, sprinkle with cheese, and bake for 5 more minutes.

Meal Swap preparation:  

I have used this recipe for our meal swap before, and it freezes really well.  The best way to make it is to prepare the casserole, cover well, and freeze before baking.  Then, thaw overnight in fridge and bake as directed. 


Now, visit The Natural Mommy for more casserole recipes. 

Here is a great meal idea that is very frugal, healthy, and yummy!  We often have breakfast for dinner, because eggs are just so great.  One of the best parts of this meal is the Apple Topping – so cheap and yummy, and you don’t need to buy expensive maple syrup or cheap fake syrup.  As a bonus, we have spinach growing in our garden, so that makes the spinach very cheap. 🙂

Spinach Eggs and Wheat Pancakes with Apple Topping

1st, Prepare Pancake Mix and Eggs:

  • Check out The Natural Mommy’s blog for her homemade half-wheat pancake mix recipe.  It’s so wonderful to make a bunch, and have it around whenever you feel like some yummy, healthy pancakes.
  • Mix up pancake batter, and set it aside.
  • Loosely chop spinach, set it aside.
  • Mix up several eggs, with milk, salt, and pepper if desired.  Set aside.
  • Shred some cheese (cheddar, or another cheese you prefer).

2nd, Prepare Apple Topping:

  • Peel and thinly slice 2-3 apples (this serves 2-3 people)
  • Place in a bowl or gallon sized ziplock bag with approximately 1/3 c. brown sugar, a few Tablespoons white sugar, about 1 Tablespoon of flour, and about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Shake or stir until apples are well-coated
  • In a skillet, melt about 1/4 c. butter.  Add the apple mixture, and cook until the apples are slightly soft.  You may add a bit of water if the syrup gets too thick. Keep warm until you are ready to eat.
3rd, meanwhile, start the pancakes:
  • Cook the pancakes, and then keep them warm.

4th, Spinach Eggs:

  • Scramble the eggs in some melted butter.  
  • When about halfway done, add the spinach and continue cooking.  
  • At the very end of cooking, add the cheese. 
Prepare plates as in the picture.  Serve with butter, milk, and juice.  You can also serve the pancakes with some peanut butter on top as well!

Notice: you really need a bread machine for this one…

A few months ago, I made homemade pizza kits for my meal swap, and they were such a hit.  They included bags of frozen, homemade pizza dough, sauce, cheese, and a topping.  So many people have been asking me for the pizza dough recipe. It really is ridiculously simple – I feel silly taking credit for all this yummy pizza and focaccia that I make.  But here it is:  

Oh, so easy Pizza Dough

1 c. water
1 T. olive oil
3 c. bread flour (you can use half wheat flour if you like)
1 t. salt
1 T. sugar
2-3 t. yeast
(you can also add italian herbs to the dough, to make a yummy herb crust) 

Place ingredients in the bread machine in the order listed.  Use the dough setting so that you remove the dough after the first rising.  

TIP: You can fridge or freeze the dough at this point.   Simply place the dough in a greased bowl or ziplock bag, and you’ll have ready-to-go dough whenever you need it.  

For pizza: Spread the dough on a pizza stone or cookie sheet (slightly greased, and sprinkled with cornmeal if you desire).  Add toppings, then bake at 425 for about 15-20 minutes.

For foccacia: Place dough on pizza stone or cookie sheet.  Pat into a circle, not as thin as pizza crust (about 1 inch thick).  Spread with olive oil, herbs, salt, parmesan cheese, carmelized onions, mozzarella, fresh spinach, or just about any yummy topping you can think of.  Let rise in a warm place about 20-30 minutes. Poke little indentations with your fingers around dough, then bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes.  YUM!

There is my great recipe and tip for the week.  Head over to Tammy’s Recipes to read other great tips for Kitchen Tip Tuesday.

Emma loves to eat oatmeal EVERY morning, and she eats it really well.  So, we have been trying to come up with ways to add nutrition and protein to her breakfast.  Ryan found a recipe for Baked Oatmeal, and I’ve put a few additions to make it even better.  The best part is that it is toddler tested and approved!  This is also a great, frugal way to have oatmeal quickly in the morning!

Healthier Baked Oatmeal

1 1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
2 T. vegetable oil
1 T. vanilla
2 1/2 c. old fashioned oats
3/4 c. brown sugar (or less)
2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1-2 T. milled flax seed 

In a small bowl, combine milk, eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Mix, and set aside. 

In a large bowl, combine oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and flax.  Add liquid ingredients; mix well, and let sit in bowl for 10-15 minutes.

Pour into a greased casserole dish.  Bake at 350, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes.  You can keep this in the fridge and scoop out a small serving to heat up each morning.  Add a bit of milk (and fruit, if desired) and serve warm.


Owlhaven is hosting a Frugal Cooking Carnival on April 25th. Check out her blog to read all of the details. It’s a bit of work to plan a frugal menu, take pictures, and share it, but I think it will be fun and really informative. I’m really curious exactly how much it costs to feed our family per meal and per day. So, go read her great blog, and join in!