Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Nutritious meals for $10 or less

Friday, February 6, 2009 16:18 1 Comment

CNN has a good feature today on nutritious meals for a family for $10 or less.  You won’t find a box od Kraft Mac and Cheese anywhere to be found!

Which got me thinking, what are some of your favorite nutritious meals that cost less than $10 for a family.

Here are some of the things I do:

  • Pesto sauce with veggie pasta (or whole wheat pasta) with chopped fresh tomatoes in it
  • Homemade veggie pizza (store bought crust, tomato sauce, fresh chopped veggies such as peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms) topped with a small amount of cheese
  • Vegetable pasta salad
  • Marinated then baked chicken thighs, served with veggies

What are some of your favorites?


This was posted under category: Cooking

Substitute fresh pineapple for canned pineapple

Thursday, January 22, 2009 3:21 Comments Off on Substitute fresh pineapple for canned pineapple

If you are like me and love pineapple, it can be pretty inexpensive to buy fresh when you watch for it to be on sale.  I often like to buy fresh pineapple for recipes that call for pineapple tidbits or chunks, but the problem is that many of them call for the can of pineapple tidbits or chunks WITH the juice.  So just how much juice is in a can?

A quick conversion is for every 1 cup size can of pineapple with juice, substitute 1/2 cup fresh chopped pineapple and 1/2 cup diluted pineapple juice or just plain water.

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This was posted under category: Cooking

Make your own Chinese Five Spice Powder

Thursday, January 15, 2009 14:18 Comments Off on Make your own Chinese Five Spice Powder

If you are looking forward to making a Chinese style dish for Chinese New Year, you can make your own Chinese Five Spice powder without having to buy a jar of it pre-made.  This is good if you only make Chinese food occassionally, and don’t want to buy an entire jar.  And as a bonus, most of you will already have all the ingredients in your spice cupboard already!

Recipe for Chinese Five Spice Powder:

  • 1 tbsp ground star anise
  • 2 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Mix well and store in an airtight container or spice jar.

Don’t forget we have many other spice jar mixes at MomsBudget including veggie dips, fruit tips, popcorn seasonings and more!

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This was posted under category: Cooking, Make your own

Switching up the lunchtime fruit routine

Wednesday, January 7, 2009 22:41 Comments Off on Switching up the lunchtime fruit routine

Tired of seeing apples coming back in your child’s lunchkit with only a bite taken out of them?  Or sending the same banana back and forth until it is too brown to even use in banana bread?  The reality is that the majority of parents limit the fruit they pack in their kid’s lunches to the traditional apples, oranges and bananas, when there is actually a whole wide variety of fruit options that increase the liklihood it will actually get eaten 😉

And don’t just think about those little single serving sized fruit cups (which also relates to our weekly grocery shopping challenge this week – Don’t Buy Single Serving Packaged Food).  Buy a large jar or can of it, and divide it into single serving sizes yourself.  Don’t have enough plastic containers?  Carefully divide into plastic bags, then store the plastic bags in a larger container in your fridge to avoid an accidental leak making a mess of your fridge, and then simply put the contents of each one into a plastic container when ready to put one into the lunch.

And if you are worried about the added sugar content of canned or jarred fruit, look for ones packed in water or juice, and avoid the ones that say packed in syrup.

Many kids also loved dried fruit.  And if your local grocery store doesn’t carry much beyond raisins and cranberries, your local health food store will have a huge selection of just about any kind of dried fruit.

So here are some other fruit ideas for lunches that ago above and beyond the traditional tried and true:

  • Mandarin orange slices
  • Canteloupe
  • Honeydew
  • Watermelon
  • Whole mandarins / clementines (a real treat in the spring & summer!)
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Star fruit
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Pineapple
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries

Don’t forget you can change the fruit experience by freezing them and packing with an ice pack, as they will likely stay mostly frozen by lunchtime.  One of my favorites is frozen grapes!

And adding a low fat yogurt dip can make the fruit an extra treat, and even make some kids feel more like it is a desert!  But avoid caramel dip, or make it an infrequent treat, since it is high in sugar and calories.

You can also put fruit on plastic skewers to mix up the presentation if your child is old enough.

What other ways do you fruit in your child’s lunch?

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This was posted under category: Babies & Kids, Cooking

How much variety is in your brown bag lunches?

Monday, January 5, 2009 2:34 1 Comment

All this week we will be giving great tips and ideas to help you stay on budget by taking your own lunches to school and work, so be sure to subscribe to get all the tips!

The number one reason why people hate to brown bag their lunches is because it seems like it is the “same old, same old”.  And when you are faced with eating the same kind of ham sandwich every day, the temptation to make a lunch run out to McDonalds or to go to a local restaurant is that much stronger.  So variety is important!

So, what ways can you vary up the brown bag routine?  The same deli ham you bought on the weekend will seem different depending on how it is served… maybe whole wheat bread one day and a pita the next.  Or cut up the ham and make a mini pizza with it instead.  Sometimes something as simple as adding cheese or making it with mayo one day and sandwich spread the next can turn a boring sandwich into something new and exciting.

Think the same for the extras in the lunch.  Switch up the juice you include.  Or if you are sending veggies and dip, send ranch dip one day and nacho dip the next.  The same goes for veggies too… if its carrots on Monday, make it brocolli on Tuesday and cucumbers on Wednesday. 

Don’t forget to get input from your kids too… they might happily eat cauliflower with dip every day, rather than switching up with different types, because all kids have veggies they love and veggies they would rather do without, and it is better to increase the odds that any veggies get into their tummies rather than discover that anytime you send carrots they end up in the garbage.


This was posted under category: Babies & Kids, Cooking

How safe are your teflon pots and pans?

Sunday, January 4, 2009 15:26 3 Comments

Have you inspected your teflon coated pots and pans lately?  If you are like most, probably not!  But if your Teflon coating has become scratched or flaking – caused by using metal utinsels when cooking, by overheating, or by heating an empty pot or pan for too long – you should replace it immediately. 

Of course, when you are on a budget, it can be hard to throw out something that seems perfectly fine except for one spot on the skillet, when you can “work around it”.  But in actuality, those little flakes and bits that come off wherever the teflon is damaged, even if you can’t see the flakes, are actually toxic to ingest.  And some research has shown that it can cause cancer.

You can prevent damage to your teflon coating by only using silicone or plastic utinsels on the cooking surface, and save the metal ones for your stainless cookware or the barbecue.  And never allow your teflon cookware to sit on high temperature without planning to immediately cook something when it heats up.  Teflon coating releases noxious chemicals into the air if it is allowed to sit on high for too long, so be sure you are ready to start cooking once you begin to heat it up.

If you find that you are still damaging it, or you just don’t want to use teflon anymore, consider investing in stainless steel cookware.  It will be more expensive to buy, but you won’t be replacing it every 6-8 months when the cook surface gets damaged.


This was posted under category: Cooking

Fresh herbs mix for inside your turkey

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 23:09 Comments Off on Fresh herbs mix for inside your turkey

Ever since we have been warned against cooking the stuffing inside the turkey, people have been getting creative with what to put inside the cooking bird.  There is always the beer can route, ala beer can chicken.  Others will stuff the stuffing inside the bird for cooking during the last half hour or so, when the turkey is nearly done, so you can ensure the turkey will be cooked through and the turkey won’t be contaminated by raw poultry juices.

But an amazingly easy thing to do is simply stuff your turkey with fresh herbs right when you are preparing it for the oven.  The fresh herbs will infuse the flavor right into the turkey as it cooks, leaving a turkey with a uniquely aromatic taste.. and your house will smell wonderful while it cooks!

You can buy fresh herbs at the grocery store, even during winter months.  So next time you are at a loss of what to put inside the turkey, consider using this great combination of fresh herbs instead.  Or you can adjust some of the herbs that work well with poulty in place of the ones we suggest.

  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Sorrel
  • Savory
  • Sage
  • Dill
  • Margoram

You only need a few sprigs of each for an average size turkey, doubling the amount of herbs for a large (25+ lbs) turkey.  When the turkey is finished roasting, you can simply discard the herbs, or you can use them in another dish, provided you are certain the turkey has been completely cooked through, so no uncooked juices remain.

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This was posted under category: Cooking, Holidays

Make flavored sugar for frugal holiday gift giving

Monday, December 15, 2008 7:24 Comments Off on Make flavored sugar for frugal holiday gift giving

Flavored sugar is a very trendy culinary gift to give that hard to buy for person on your list.  It is also considered a high end ingredient, but you can make it yourself for barely any cost at all… this is really a great gift you can make for well under $1!

You only need a week or two to make most of these recipes, so you aren’t too late to make these for gifts.  You might also want to include it with one of our many drink mixes in a jar in a gift basket or bag.

We have five different flavored sugar recipes for you to make.

Vanilla Sugar
This is probably the best known of all the flavored sugars, and is widely used in drinks and in deserts.

Lavender sugar
If you have seen any of those lavendar cookies on sale for an outrageous amount of money in a bakery lately, the secret to them is lavender sugar.

Chocolate sugar
This one is a hit with the adults and the kids!  Great in coffee and lattes, and of course, as a delicate desert topping.

Lemon sugar
What would be better to sweeten iced tea with than a spoonful of lemon sugar?

Orange sugar
Another great citrus sugar to enjoy, without the tartness of the lemon sugar.

Feel free to share all your other favorite sugar recipes :)

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This was posted under category: Cooking

71 Different Cranberry Sauce Recipes for Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 17:16 1 Comment

Tired of the same old cranberry sauce printed on the bag of fresh cranberries?  Or worse, you have only ever used the canned cranberry sauce but are looking to make it from scratch this year? 

Here are a ton of different types of cranberry sauce you can experiment this year.  Or pick two contrasting cranberry sauces and let your guests pick which one they want to try with their turkey.  Some are definitely ones that guests will either love or hate, such as the cranberry sauce with avocado or horseradish.  Is it just a single girls only Thanksgiving dinner?  Be sure to do the Cosmo Cranberry Sauce or the Sangria Cranberry Sauce!  Do you have a kid’s table at Thanksgiving?  Be sure to check out the Cranberry Ketchup recipe as well as the cranberry dipping sauces.

  1. Cranberry sauce with beer
    Might not be your first choice, but you know it will be a hit with the guys!
  2. Roasted cranberry sauce
    Definitely a keeper!  I will definitely be trying this one!
  3. Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce
    Save stovetop space by making cranberry sauce in the slow cooker.
  4. Orange cranberry sauce with cinnamon and pecans
    I love orange cranberry sauce, the addition of pecans will make it one to remember.
  5. Cabernet cranberry sauce
    Complete with video!
  6. Cranberry salsa
    On my have-to-try list!
  7. Cranberry Avocado Salsa
    I am not a fan of avocado personally, but I know those who like it tend to be pretty zealous in their love for it, so I know someone will be making this one!
  8. Apple-cran-pear sauce
    The unexpected ingredient in this one is a can of apple pie filling!  This must be a regional thing because I have never heard of such a thing, or else I just don’t know where I would have ever seen it in the grocery store!  Baking aisle?  I am pretty sure not in the canned fruit aisle!
  9. Cranberry Rum Sauce
    Includes Captain Morgans rum and granny smith apples in this sauce.
  10. Spiced cranberry sauce with chardonnay and orange zest
    If you are a chardonnay fan, this would be a great way to either use up your left over wine or get a head start on the dinner wine!
  11. Cranberry relish
    A thicker version of traditional cranberry sauce.
  12. Cranberry Sauce with Maple & Orange Zest
    Includes great photos of this one being made.
  13. Cranberry-Caramel Sauce
    Sure to satisfy those sweet tooths in the family!
  14. Santa Fe Cranberry Sauce
    A spicier cranberry sauce from Good Housekeeping
  15. Baked Cranberry Sauce ala Orange
    You can bake this cranberry sauce alongside the turkey.
  16. Apricot Cranberry Chutney
    Uses dried apricots to save on money.
  17. Southwestern Cranberry Sauce
    Another spicier cranberry sauce from Good Housekeeping
  18. Cosmo Cranberry Sauce
    Good for that girlfriend’s only Thanksgiving dinner!
  19. Brandied Cranberry Sauce
    A great one if you have brandy lurking in your cabinet!
  20. Maple Cranberry Sauce with Walnuts
    This one is good enough for cheesecake topping too, if you plan for a non-traditional (ie. not pumpkin!) desert.
  21. Blackberry Cranberry Sauce
    If you have ripe blackberies on bushes on your property, you could even send the kids off to have fun picking blackberries before dinner!
  22. Organic Cranberry Sauce
    If you have organic cranberries, give this one a try.
  23. Sangria Cranberry Sauce
    Another sauce perfect for that single gals only dinner
  24. Cape Cod Cranberry Sauce
    Raisins are the star of this sauce.
  25. Three Cranberry Relish
    This recipe uses fresh cranberries, cranberry juice and dried cranberries.
  26. Cranberry Raspberry Sauce
    You can use fresh or frozen raspberries in this one.
  27. Cranberry Sauce with Caramelized Onions
    I love carmelized onions, this Good Housekeeping recipe is sure to be a winner.
  28. Fennel & Walnut Cranberry sauce
    This would be a great recipe if you have fennel growing in your garden, since it is in season.
  29. Pineapple-orange cranberry sauce
    I love pineapple, this is another one to try sometime!
  30. Port wine cranberry sauce
    Another cranberry sauce for red wine fans.
  31. Ginger Pear Cranberry Sauce
    A nice flavor of ginger enhances this cranberry sauce from Good Housekeeping.
  32. Cranberry Mandarin Sauce
    A recipe that uses homemade cranberry sauce or canned cranberry sauce as the base.
  33. Grappa Cranberry Sauce
    For those of you that don’t know what grappa is, it is an Italian brandy.
  34. Cranberry Burgundy Sauce
    Another cranberry sauce using Burgundy red wine.
  35. Pineapple-Rum Cranberry Sauce
    Another pineapple based cranberry sauce, this time with dark Jamaican rum!
  36. Cranberry chutney
    Another thicker cranberry sauce, but I can’t help but think how the apple cider vinegar must really enhance this one!
  37. Cranberry sauce with tangerine essential oil
    This is definitely one of the more unusual ones, but since so many of us have bottles of essential oils for crafts, I know at least a few of you will try this one!
  38. Blueberry cranberry sauce
    For the blueberry fans, a great healthy fruit!
  39. Cranberry Sauce with Zinfandel, Star Anise and Black Pepper
    A mix of flavors in this one.
  40. Dried cherry cranberry sauce
    Here is a nice spin on the whole adding fruit to cranberry sauce.
  41. Grand marnier cranberry-orange relish
    Not for everyone, but would make a great second selection of cranberry sauce.  Read the reviews, as it can turn out to be a bit more bitter than expected.
  42. Chipolte Cranberry Sauce
    For those who want a bit more kick in their cranberry sauce
  43. Cranberry applesauce
    Use the leftovers for a snack for your kids, or freeze your leftovers for later.
  44. Cranberry Horseradish Sauce
    This one doesn’t strike me as yummy, but I know some horseradish lovers will probably love it!
  45. Spiced cranberry ketchup
    The perfect cranberry sauce for the kids, you can even put it in a bottle like ketchup!
  46. Cranberry Tangerine & Blueberry Sauce
    Another great fruited sauce, using frozen blueberries to save money
  47. Sugar and spice cranberry sauce
    Another one that is a bit sweeter than others, with a tangy spice to it.
  48. Red Wine Cranberry Sauce with Walnuts
    Another red wine cranberry sauce, this time with walnuts
  49. French Canadian cranberry sauce
    With maple and brown sugar.
  50. Microwave cranberry sauce
    If you need the stovetop and oven space, make cranberry sauce in the microwave
  51. Sugar-free cranberry sauce
    Perfect for diabetics and others trying to watch their sugar intake.
  52. Cranberry Sauce with Raspberry Vinegar
    Another cranberry sauce that isnt quite as tart.
  53. Maple cranberry sauce
    This is another one on my must try list.  The maple syrup counteracts some of the usual tartness of cranberry sauce and makes
  54. Light cranberry sauce with apple cider
    A lighter version of cranberry sauce for those watching their calories.
  55. Spirited Cranberry Apricot Sauce
    Another lighter cranberry sauce from Cooking Light.
  56. Cranberry Dipping Sauce
    A good recipe for the kid’s table this Thanksgiving!
  57. Cranberry-Ginger dipping sauce
    Another dipping sauce for the kid’s table
  58. Cranberry Lime Sauce
    A nice tart cranberry sauce using both lime juice and lime zest
  59. Cranberry butter
    Perfect for those Turkey leftover sandwiches you will all be eating!
  60. Curried Peach & Cranberry Chutney
    If you love curry, you will love this one from Good Housekeeping.
  61. Japapeno Cranberry Sauce
    Not for the faint of heart… and mouth!
  62. Clem-Cranberry Sauce
    A spin on the usual orange cranberry, this one is made with clementines
  63. Brown Sugar Cranberry Sauce
    Another darker cranberry sauce recipe
  64. Cranberry Barbecue Sauce
    This one would be perfect for those doing a non-traditional turkey burger dinner instead of a roasted turkey!
  65. Cranberry Chipotle Barbecue sauce
    Another BBQ sauce recipe, this one with a tex mex kick from Canadian Living.
  66. Cranberry Sauce with Apricots, Raisins & Oange
    A nice fruity version of cranberry sauce you can make the day before.
  67. Brandied Orange & Cranberry Sauce
    Brandy really brings out the flavors in this sauce
  68. Cranberry-Tangerine Sauce with Apples & Almonds
    Another nutty crunchy variation of cranberry sauce
  69. Nantucket Cranberry Sauce
    A dark cranberry sauce with maple syrup, molasses and brown sugar.
  70. Pear Honey Cranberry Sauce
    A refreshing mixture of flavors in this cranberry sauce.
  71. Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce
    A perfect one for pomegranate lovers, especially since the fruit is in season!

Hope you find the perfect cranberry sauce and we’d love to hear what recipes people are trying out.  And just incase you need it, here is how to remove cranberry sauce stains :)  And we have plenty more Thanksgiving articles here.

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This was posted under category: Cooking, Holidays

How often should you baste a turkey?

Saturday, November 15, 2008 3:10 3 Comments

You have probably heard that basting frequently results in a better turkey that is much more moist and juicy than its non-basted counterpart.  But did you know that basting a turkey actually does little to make it less dry?

Basting your turkey has only one purpose – to give the skin that golden roasted turkey color to the skin that most people associate with a perfectly cooked turkey.  But frequent basting has a significant downfall.  Every time you open the oven, it loses heat.  This means it will take that much longer for your turkey to cook since everytime you open the oven for basting, it will take time to bring it back up to temperature.

So you should leave basting for the last hour of cooking, and not do it too frequently.  This way you get the benefits of basting by having that golden skin, while not prolonging cooking time significantly – something that can definitely put a crimp on your Thanksgiving dinner plans, especially if you have everything planned to when the turkey should be done before you started opening the oven all the time for basting!!!

If you want to have a juicier turkey, consider one of the self-basting turkeys instead, where there is a seasoned broth mixture injected into the turkey below the skin.


This was posted under category: Cooking, Holidays Tags: , , ,