Sunday, November 29, 2009


My sister was kind enough to invite us to Thanksgiving dinner at her house.  She also had a dead turkey and part of a dead pig on the table.  Bleech!

I made some vegan cakes to take.  I bought a cake-leveler for $3 and wanted to try it out.  I had white cake mix in the pantry and I bought some vanilla icing.  I also purchased German Chocolate cake mix and coconut-icing. Yum!

I am seriously deficient in cake pans (because I'm the cupcake-queen!) so I decided to use a round pie pan and a square pan.

I oiled the pan and then used cake mix to flour the pan.  It doesn't make a difference with white cakes, but it's an important step with other colors.  If you use the cake mix, you don't have white flour on the crust of the cake!

I mixed the batter by hand (because I have no other way of doing it!).  I used a tablespoon of soy flour to replace the egg whites in the recipe and used a little more water.  I poured half of the batter in the square dish and half in the round one.  I baked according to directions.

After they baked, I started making the German Chocolate cupcakes.  No real secret here, except I used the soy flour instead of eggs with them too.  I also use olive oil because I've heard rumors that it is better for you than vegetable oils.  I was afraid that they would have a weird taste, but they were fabulous! 

I cut the round cake in half and set them with the square cake as shown in the picture.
After I leveled them, I put the icing in the microwave for 30 seconds and mixed it really well and iced the cake.  I did get some crumbs in the icing, so it wasn't as pretty as I wanted it to be!
I still need practice with icing!  The cupcakes were much more forgiving!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chili Cake

My son's favorite.

Soooo good, so simple!

2 boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix
3 cans of chili

Then Mix (I do it in the pan!) and bake 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

My son will tell you what he thinks of it:

Chili Cake: simple,scrumptious,and sweet.

sure it looks inedible, but once you taste it your taste buds will EXPLODE!

that is all! ;D

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


At the risk of sounding like a big baby, on Sunday, I fell and twisted my knee.  I'm mobile, but I haven't been up to making any masterpieces!  I'll be making some crockpot lasagna today or tomorrow and will get pictures of it when I do. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Magical Fruits

As I posted, I started Pintos yesterday.  Soaked for about 8 hours and then I dumped them in the crockpot for 10 hours.  Easy peasy, right??!

Let's back up.  According to Wikipedia, Rice and pinto beans served with cornbread or corn tortillas are often a staple meal where there is limited money for meat; the amino acids in this combination make it a complete protein source. This variety is often used in chili con carne, although the kidney bean, black bean, and many others may also be used in other locales.
In the southeastern part of the United States, pinto beans were once a staple of the poor (usually eaten with cornbread, milk, and cabbage), especially during the winter months. Some churches in rural areas still sponsor "pinto bean suppers" for social gatherings and fund raisers.

So, the humble bean has the stigma of "poor people" food.  Ugh.  My mom rarely fixed beans (and yeah, we were poor) because I don't think she knew how.  When we got beans at school, I was the only kid who scraped the tray with my spoon, trying to get every last dribble of "bean juice"!  I loved when I stayed with a friend and they had beans and cornbread.  I probably kept them up all night tooting, but I don't care.  I've always loved beans.

One of the first things I bought myself as an adult was a crock pot.  Oh boy!  Now I can make my own beans.  But they were never, ever good.  Bland and had a funny "dirt" taste.  So I sold the crock pot at a yard sale. But I never stopped asking questions.  I need a bone or some ham in it.  So I bought myself another crock pot and tried cooking beans with ham.  And it was good.

But now I don't eat animals, so how can I make my beans good again??  For now, I clean them, soak them, cook them. They are plain and bland, but aren't they pretty?!

Then I saute some garlic and jalapenos in some olive oil  and then start adding the beans. And then I smoosh them with my handy wooden spoon.  I keep adding beans and smooshing and until I end up with a tasty-looking mass.  Then I dump cheese sauce on the whole mess and add salsa and viola!  This stuff is good with a tortilla or on chips or on just about anything. We chose nachos, and they were pretty good.  They were a bit bland for my tastes, but the boys ate them up.



I love Taco Bell's potato-based food. I fell in love with and wanted to marry their cheesy potato bowls many years ago. A month ago, I tried the potato taco for the first time, and have never looked back.

Saturday, we were poking around the Dollar General Market and saw 10 hash browns (kind of like McD's) for $1.50. They are frozen, oval patties. I fried them up yesterday, and they started falling apart, so I took the liberty of "scrambling" them.

I wanted to try to copycat the Potaco, but not exactly (no lettuce at home) and add our tastes to it.

First, the tortilla: $.11 each. I made them two at a time. A dollop of ranch dressing then put one tortilla on top of the other and smear it around to share between two of them. Then a generous glob of hash browns. I use a cheese sauce (.59/lb) and throw a few jalapenos ($.05/ounce), (because I like them, not because TB does.) Then I put a little bit of salsa on there for flavor and color! I would like to have a packet of TB sauce instead, but I don't save those.

Then I rolled it up like a wrap. I wrapped my napkin it around it like a burrito to secure it. Two tacos/wraps/burritos fit in my cute lunch bag and was topped off with a bag of tortilla chips. At lunch, I'll warm it for a minute.

It took me 9 minutes to fix my lunch this morning. Most of that time was getting jars out of the fridge and putting them back. Next time, I'll be more prepared and can cut a few minutes off that time. Taco Bell is 10 minutes away and I have never been able to get my order in less than 10 minutes during lunch. So, although a Potaco from TB is only $.86 each, I made them at home for about $.30 each and saved 10-15 minutes for the process. I also have an "almost free" side of chips ($.10?) and my drink from home ($.06). Same combo from TB is an affordable $3.86 ($4.21 after taxes), my homemade version is $.83! Saving $3.38 is quite an incentive.  If I did that five times a week for 50 weeks, I would save $845.  If we both did this, we could have $1690 in a sinking fund for our trip to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in IMAX.

Big Batches

I woke up this morning to a semi-clean kitchen, a pot of beans simmering in the slow-cooker, so many baked potatoes that I don't even have a container big enough to hold them all, cooked noodles in the fridge, and a pot of hot, delicious coffee.

Pre-planning is how I keep my sanity.  I'm not great at the "planning" part of it, but everything usually comes together if I just make a lot of stuff ahead of time.  Last Sunday, I made a lot of desserts (the plan was to make enough for the month).  I only used one bowl and one spoon.  I didn't even bother cleaning them between mixes, because it didn't matter if I got a little brownie mix in my German Choc. cupcake mix. I heated up the oven once and altho I had to leave it on for over an hour, it was still more efficient than if I made the batches separately. 

Last night for dinner, all I had to do was warm up some pasta and sauce and throw frozen rolls in the oven.  It took all of 15 minutes.   I took 3 minutes to make coffee last night so that it would be ready before I was this morning.  I started soaking beans yesterday and today, I have a potful of beans that are ready to refry by lunch.  If I didn't spend the 4 hours on Sundays doing all the prep, by Tuesday, I would have the "there's nothing to eat" mentality.  Raw potatoes and dried beans aren't a great dinner choice but as long as you have some baked potatoes and some pintos, you have a party waiting to happen!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

No pattern, no iron- no problem!

My son's school has a rule that the kiddies can't carry a backpack between classes. The only thing they are allowed to carry between classes is a drawstring bag. "All the kids have one". Well, I haven't been able to find one in stores, so I drug him to the fabric section to pick out something he wanted. He finally settled on plain black but then I noticed some halloween fabrics in clearance. He picked out a pretty cool purple and black fabric and we got 1/2 yard for $.55. Not too shabby. He then picked out some neon green cord ($2) for the drawstring. He's crazy insane for the Joker in Batman, so it works for him.

I had to buy a sewing machine (well, my sweet honey bought it for my birthday in 2 weeks) and some thread and some pins.  It turned out pretty well, considering I really didn't know what I was doing.  First I hemmed up the sides of it.

 Then I folded down the top about 2 inches and made two rows of stitches, to make a "pocket" for the cording.   I wish I could get a decent picture of this, because I did such a great job!!  :)  I ran the cording thru the pocket.
Then I folded it in half and pinned the cording about 6 inches from the fold and just sewed it right up in the seam. 

I didn't have enough cording to make it the way I wanted it.  He'll have to scrunch it himself at the top, while the other kids get to pull the cords and cause the top to scrunch.  He doesn't mind and he loves it. He has a very unique sack and I was only out $2.55!!

Sewing Machine issues!

Last summer, a tree fell on my house and dropped down this icky black stuff out of the ceilings. Most everything I own had to be replaced or cleaned.
My sewing machine came out of storage in fairly good shape compared to a lot of other things. But, 2 summers in storage was not a good friend to my brother XL. I cleaned it and oiled it and the needle will not budge. So I've decided to replace it. Which is ok, because the machine had "sentimental value" that sucked. As in, maybe now that it is out of my life, my life will improve.
So we are going out in 2 1/2 hours and getting me a new machine for my birthday. I'm super excited, because now I have a good excuse to make stuff to post just for you!! :)

Sunday=Catch up Day

I'm posting a bit early, but hopefully, this won't be all for the day.
Today is "catch up on laundry" and "clean the kitchen" and "cook" day.
Last week, I made a pan of brownies, a sheet cake and 24 cupcakes. They went straight into the freezer. This week, I'm soaking 5 lbs of potatoes to bake. They will be the base of most meals this week. Basically, I let them soak in the sink with some soapy water and then scrub them clean. I dry them and roll them in a plate of olive oil and then sprinkle some sea salt on them. I throw them all in my handy, can't-live-without-it convection oven and bake them for about an hour. They will stay "good" longer than they last around here. Easy to heat up later.
I got a 10-lb bag of potatoes for $2.50. I dumped half of it in the sink and will get several great meals/sides for $1.25.
I also have my big pot full of water, heating up to boiling right now. I'm going to make a big batch of spaghetti noodles, too. Same concept as the taters. $.25-.75 for several side dishes or a meal.
I started some pintos too. That will be in a separate post, because I'm photographing that one step by step!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

We were out running around today, so we loaded up on banana nut muffins which fueled us enough to clean the house and get out the door. Then we got the munchies and ordered a Bucket of Fries (no kidding, that's what it's called) and then went to Taco Bell for some potato tacos and bean burritos. The muffins were $1 for the mix and the bucket of fries and taco bell ran us $20.

Friday, November 6, 2009

This is a frozen pizza. It was a bit bland, so we decided to cut it into strips and dip them into spaghetti sauce. The pizza is about $5 and the sauce is from an ever-present jar in the fridge ($.25?).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This is was a mixture of a can of red chili and a can of black bean chili ($3 total), some cheese from a giant can of cheese sauce ($8 for 3 gallons), and some salsa (giant bottle, price not known-expect an update) on top of some crispy Santito tortilla chips ($2). There was enough for 4 BIG meals. I estimate the whole darned thing at $1/serving.. which is my goal.