Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Beginning of Spring Cleaning!

Hello Everyone!
You may have noticed that I have a new logo on my Facebook page!!!  My friend, who is an amazing graphic designer, created it for me.  I still have to figure out how to put it on the blog itself, but I am working on it.  I know there has to be a way, but, for now, my skill set is lacking.  But this is what it looks like:

Pretty amazing right?!?!?  He came up with the design and inserted the girl I drew into the design.  Every time that I look at this I get so happy that I could burst!
So many things have been happening this week.  I had put a lot on hold for the past two weeks while I put out the two week menu for the blog.  Since I have to take pictures of what I cook and, very often, have to make note of how much of the spices and everything that I use- because I very often eyeball things, the dinner recipes that I post take up almost all of the evening, so I hadn't cleaned the house really.  When I finally pulled myself out of my blog and looked around, I realized that it was time to do a little spring cleaning.
So I decided that Spring Cleaning would be the perfect subject for the next few blogs. As I looked around my home, I realized that cleaning was going to be at least a three step process before my house even became presentable again.
Step 1:  Clean up all the clutter that had massively accumulated in every room.
Step 2:  Actually scrub every surface of the house.
Step 3:  Laundry.  Lot and lots of laundry.
Since steps one and three can be accomplished at the same time, I put on my house cleaning clothes and started to try to bring order back to the chaos that was my home.

This is me in my house cleaning outfit.  This is one of my favorite outfits.  As you can see the clutter behind me, its definitely time to start cleaning.

So, this particular blog is going to be about- Laundry.
As frugal as I am,I do not make my own laundry detergent.  I have thought about it, but I really love Nellie's Laundry Nuggets and they are so easy to use that I just haven't bothered to learn how to make my own yet.

I am not being paid to promote this product.  I just like it.

Yes, I have to admit that I was first taken in by the packaging.  But I also found them on sale and got a really good deal.  Now when I find such sales, I stock up.
But Nellie's does not make a dryer sheets or fabric softener.  They do make dyer balls.  And the set that I have does not have a spot to put a scent stick in because I got the old kind for $5.00 which are great for keeping clothes soft and static free but have no scent. So I had to come up with something that would make my laundry smell clean and gorgeous and not as perfume-y as the fabric softeners that you can get in the store.
I always have essential oils in the house for various things and a herb garden and a spice cabinet so I thought that I would start there.  And this is what I came up with.


Frugal Femme Dryer Packets

4 cotton balls
Essential Oil of your Choice  (I like rose and lavender, my husband like orange and cloves)
Herbs of Your Choice (For rose and lavender, you use lavender for the orange whole cloves)
1 sachet  (You can purchase this or you can make it from an old cotton pillow case.)

For this batch, I am making my husband's favorite Orange and Cloves.

1.  Put about a teaspoon of the dried herbs into the sachet.  If you are using cloves, put about 4 or 5 cloves in the bag.  I like to use the broken ones that you can't use to perforate oranges with when making hot Christmas beverages.
2.  Place 4-10 drops of essential oil on each cotton ball.  If you are using two scents only put one of each oil on each cotton ball.  Do not saturate the cotton ball.  It is not necessary and in fact will give you too much fragrance.

See how little is on the cotton ball?  That is all you need. I cannot stress enough, do not saturate the cotton ball.

3.  Put the cotton balls in the sachet and pull the drawstrings to close the bag.

You are now ready to use this in your dryer when you are doing laundry.

The type of oil that you use will determine how many times you can use this in the dryer before you have to replace.  I have actually had one of mine last up for 20 loads before it stopped scenting my laundry!
When you have finished using it, to keep the scent stronger longer, keep it stored in a resealable plastic bag until you are ready to use it again.
The other great thing is that you can make this scent anything that you like.  Cinnamon and Cloves make your laundry smell like Christmas and is great for the holidays.   Lemon and Orange make your clothes smell like a citrus grove.  Rose and lavender smell like spring.  Ylang Ylang and Jasmine are exotic.  You are only held in by the essential oils available to you.
Essential oil can be expensive.  Don't spend more than $3-$5 for your oil it really isn't necessary.
A note of warning, some people are allergic to essential oils. You should do a skin test if you do not know whether you are allergic or not by putting a drop on your skin and seeing how you react.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Frugal Femme Two Week Menu #2: Week Two, Saturday: Grilled Steaks, Savory Grilled Corn and Twice Baked Potatoes

Hello Everyone.
I'm so excited!!!!  My onion is sprouting!  Last week I had planted  dried onion bulbs in the hopes of growing my own red onions. Every day I would go out and check their progress and it seemed like nothing was happening.  Then, yesterday, like magic, I had three sprouts!!!!   I'm so stoked.  I have no idea how long they take to mature, I'm going to have to research that on the internet, but they are growing and that is all that I can ask for right now.
Since I am a meal behind, we are doing the steaks tonight.  This means that I will do the prep work, but my husband will man the grill. 

I love these fifties images.  Everything looks so cheesy.  Look at me!  I am all that is man, as I pose like I am getting ready for a Captain Morgan's Rum commercial.

I don't know why, but I have never learned how to grill on an outdoor grill.

Although I do know better than to let smoke blow up my skirt and allow the neighbors to see my stockings!

But, I never have learned.  Thus, whenever I want anything grilled I ask my husband if he would mind grilling for me.  I am certain that I could learn to grill, but now it feels like tradition and I enjoy having an adult beverage or glass of wine while my husband grills.

In this particular meal, the sides are going to take way longer than the steaks so you want to do them first in the order that I have given in this post.

Savory Grilled Corn

Corn was one of the few vegetables that I would eat even when I hated vegetables.  But their sweetness actually disturbs me.  So most of the recipes that I come up with for corn try to make them a little more savory.  This recipe is no different.

1/2 cup mayonnaise (No, do NOT use Miracle Whip, it comes out too tart.)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried minced onion
1 tsp. dried dill
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3 medium ears sweet corn, silk and husks removed
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, garlic, dried minced onion, dill, salt and pepper. Mix until combined.

2.  Spread over the corn.

3.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

4.  Wrap each ear of corn in a double thickness of heavy-duty foil that has been thoroughly sprayed with oil.  (I like to use olive oil spray.)

5.  Grill, covered, over medium heat for 30-35 minutes or until the corn is tender, turning occasionally.


Twice Baked Potatoes

Okay, so I have done this the correct way, and then I figured out how to cheat.  This is the recipe where I show you how to cheat.
Also, there are no wrong ingredients in a twice baked potato.   I used leftovers that I had from other meals, but you can use anything you like on your potato.  When in doubt, look at what is served on potatoes in restaurants and put that on your potato.
Also, the measurements for this are not set in stone.  You can put more or less depending on your personal tastes.  Basically what I am telling you, is just use this recipe as a guideline so that you know cooking times and temperatures.

2 large potatoes, Idaho potatoes are the best for this, but I had golden potatoes so that's what I used
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup Italian shredded cheese mix
1 tsp. dried dill (although I skipped it this time because I of the dill in the corn.)
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Onion salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Scrub two large potatoes and put them in them in the microwave for 10-14 minutes.  (Timing depends on the size of the potatoes, test them after 10 minutes, if they are squishy when tested, they are good to come out of the microwave, if they still feel firm, cook them the full 14 minutes.)
3.  Once the potatoes are done, remove them from the microwave.  Let them cool for at least 5 minutes so that you can handle them- if you try to do the next few steps as soon as they come out of the microwave, you may burn yourself.
4.  Cut off the top quarter of the potatoes and scoop the potato out of both the top and the bottom, making  an empty bowl of the bottom of the  potatoes. Put the empty potato skin shell bowls into a baking dish or into individual baking dishes

5.  In a small bowl combine the pulp of the potato, and the remaining ingredients; mash with a fork until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

6.  Put the potato mixture back into the empty potato shells.  Sprinkle the tops with cheese.

7.  Place the potatoes in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until the tops are a lovely golden color.

Grilled Steaks

Steaks are possibly the easiest of foods to prepare.  It is the cooking  where everything can go so, so, wrong.  This is a very simple steak recipe as it does not involve a marinade.   For this recipe you will want to make certain that you have good cuts of meat or the steaks will only be okay instead of a little piece of heaven on earth.

2 steaks  (I like rib eyes, but you choose the cut that you like best.)
2 tsp. olive oil
8 drops white truffle oil (4 per steak, two per side)
garlic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp. garlic salt

1.  Let the steaks sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour to get closer to room temperature.
2.  Rub the olive oil, truffle oil, garlic salt, and freshly ground pepper onto all sides of the steak.

3.  Let the steak sit with the salt and oil for 30 minutes.
4.  Place on the grill and cook until desired doneness.  If you want your steaks medium rare that would be about 4 minutes per side.
5.  Remove from the grill and cover loosely with foil.  Let sit for 15 minutes to allow the meat to settle. 
6.  Serve with your prepared sides.

This makes the final meal of this round of the Frugal Femme Two Week Menu!!!!  I will be posting later this week to give the recipes that I promised to pull off an amazing Mother's Day Brunch.

Frugal Femme Two Week Menu #2: Week Two, Friday: Greek Meatball "Sub" with Greek Cucumber Sauce (Tzatziki) and Salad with Sweet Onion Vinaigrette

Hello Everyone!
When I was creating the two week menu for these past two weeks, I had kept in mind that my husband would be rehearsing and planned my meals accordingly.  Except for this Friday!!!  I had planned a quick meal, but I hadn't considered that, by the time the show was done for opening night, neither of us would want to wait for me to cook a meal.
I found a picture of the dust jacket for this 1933 cookbook online and decided that I need this book in my life. I did some research and found out that the book is by Coral Smith. Ideally, I will be able to find one with this dust jacket. Most likely, I will have to get one without the dust jacket, and just make a copy of this picture.  Don't you love the 30's dress and hair?  My hope is that there will be some really good recipes in here that I can adapt and try. 

So my husband had leftover muffuleta pasta salad. (I made so much, he'll be eating on it for days.) and I had a sandwich. 

I love the play on words in this vintage graphic.  I also feel that it should be my motto: The Frugal Femme, she has a way with leftovers! So jealous that someone else thought of this first.

Which means that I did Friday night's meal on Saturday.  Sort of......
My husband decided that, if we were going to have herbs and vegetables in our yard, that we should also have at least one or two decorative flowers.  So off to our local nursery we went. After we were done transplanting everything, we were sitting under the carport admiring our hard work and my husband asked me what we were having for dinner and I told him Greek meatballs in wine sauce with herbed basmati rice. It was then, that we both got a stroke of genius when he asked me "Can we have pita with that?" And the new Greek Meatball "Sub" Sandwich was born. 
And it was delicious!!!!  It is actually a fairly healthy meal but you feel that you are eating a very unhealthy meal because it FEELS like you're being bad. 
Which is why I am giving you the instructions for this new favorite meal, rather than the one originally planned.

Greek Cucumber Sauce (Tzatziki)

You will want to make this first, by at least three hours so that it has time to sit in the fridge.  This also makes ALOT.  But that is okay.  Because this stuff is so good you're going to want to dip your veggies in it as a snack food, or put it on your hamburgers or sandwiches.  Still, this version makes far less than most of the other recipes that you will find online.

1  1/2 cup Greek yogurt  (I use Fage and suggest you do to as this yogurt is thicker than most other
         brands on the market.)
Juice from half of lemon (About 1 1/2 tbsp.)
1 garlic clove minced  (If you love garlic then do 2 cloves.)
1/2 large English cucumber, peeled and diced (If you use a food processor to mix your ingredients, you do not have to peel your cucumber. I don't.)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. fresh dill (If you do not have fresh, 1tsp. dry dill)  I sometimes add 1/2 tsp. dry dill along with my fresh, but I REALLY like dill.
1 tbsp. fresh mint
Both, together depending on your personal taste,
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to personal taste)

1.  Put the diced cucumbers in a colander and sprinkle with two teaspoons kosher salt.  (Just like with beef and other meats, the salt will help to draw the moisture out of the cucumbers.)  Cover with a small plate (I used a dessert plate.) and sit something heavy on top. (I, conveniently, had a bottle of wine for the meatball recipe, so that's what I placed on top of the plate.)

2.  Let the cucumbers sit for 30 minutes.
3.  After 30 minutes, place cucumbers in doubled up paper towels and squeeze out more moisture.  Pat dry with a paper towel.

I know this looks like something out of a horror film, but it is the cucumber in the paper towels.

4.  While the cucumbers are in the colander, in a small bowl combine the dill or mint and the yogurt.  And stir until thoroughly combined.
5.  In a food processor or blender,  (I use my mini food processor.) add cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice and a few grinds of black pepper.  Process until well blended.

6. Pour in the yogurt with the dill/mint and process until well blended.  (If you want your sauce to be chunkier, pour the cucumber mix into the yogurt and stir with a spoon.)

7.  Taste.  If you want to add extra salt, do so at this time.  TASTE FIRST!!! You put salt on the cucumbers to dry them and this may make the sauce salty enough.

8.  Put in the refrigerator and let sit for at least two hours, this will allow the flavors to blend and make a more delicious sauce.

Note:  This can keep in the fridge for up to week.

Now we will be making the dressing for the salad.  For this meal, I used this recipe that I found on the Jess Dukes blog.  I don't know much about her blog, except that the recipes look very healthy.  I actually came across this recipe where I work when a copy of the recipe was left on our copy machine.  I only minutely changed her recipe, which is why I have included this link.

She has nutritional facts on her site.  (I have got to figure out how she does that.) but I have also put it here on this page so that you can see what it looks like to make it.  (Her site does not include pictures.) I have also made one change to the recipe.  I use kosher salt rather than sea salt.

Jess Duke's Sweet Onion Vinaigrette

1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
1 whole orange, squeezed 
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. kosher salt

1.  Place all ingredients in a blender.  (I used my magic bullet.  It is great for small blending jobs.)

I had used the zest from this orange in a dessert recipe that I had made.  I kept it to use for this dressing.

In the juice your go. 

Its always amazing to me that the blender is going to turn this into something liquid smooth.

2.  Blend until smooth.

This picture was taken after I poured the dressing over the salad, so you can see how much it makes.

Yup.  It's that easy.  I put it over a salad made of romaine lettuce and feta cheese.  (You won't need all of it.  I only used about 1/4 of the amount that I made.)  This dressing will last in the fridge for up to a week.


Greek Meatballs in Wine Sauce

We couldn't find any ground lamb at our grocery stores to make this meal.  So my husband cut apart two lamb chops for me and I ran them through my grinder attachment on my Kitchenaid mixer.

My sweetie cutting up the lamb chops for me.

For the ground beef, I used the leftover beef cubes that I had from Classic Beef Stew for two night and ran it through the grinder attachment as well.
For those of you who may be seeing my blog for this first time, here is a detailed description of how to grind meat either using an attachment or with your food processor:

3/4 pound ground lamb
3/4 pound ground beef or veal
1 small onion, minced, or grated
1  tbsp. fresh dill plus 1 tsp. dry dill
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp.butter
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup dry white wine  (You can also substitute dry sherry.)
1 tsp. dry basil
1/2 lemon
1 tsp. cornstarch, heaping
1/4 cup cold water

1.  In a large bowl, combine the meats, onion, dill, salt and pepper.

See!?!?!  You can't even tell that I ground it at home.

2.  Begin rolling the meat mixture into small,  bite-sized ball.  I have a scoop that scoops out about two tbsp. worth of meat, but you may want to bigger or smaller, depending on your personal preference.  Put them on a plate when you are finished rolling them and continue create balls until all of the meat is gone.

3.  In a large, heavy bottomed frying pan, melt butter into oil over medium heat. 
4.  Add the meatballs to the pan and sauté about 10-12 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to brown equally on all sides.  (Sometimes the shaking thing doesn't work for me, and I turn them using a pair of prongs.)

5.  Deglaze the pan with wine and add 1 tsp. basil and allow it to reduce by half, about 3-5 minutes.


6.  Remove the meatballs from the pan and place on a warmed plate.
7.  In a small custard cup, combine 1 heaping tsp. cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water and whisk with a fork until smooth.
8.  Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan and stir.  Mixture will thicken very quickly.
9. Remove from heat and add the meat balls back into the pan, stirring into the wine glaze.

10.  Squeeze the lemon juice over the meatballs and sauce.

To Serve As a Greek Meatball "Sub"

Extra Ingredients
Wheat Pita Bread
Feta Cheese, crumbled

1.  Cut a whole wheat pita in half.  This will create two "bowls" for you to put your ingredients in to.
2.  Scoop 2-4 meatballs (depending on the size of your meatballs) into to the pocket of the pita bread, spoon wine glaze over meatballs.
3.  Add Tzatziki and feta cheese.  (You can put as much or as little of these items as you would like.  I really love tzatziki, so I usually do about 1-2 tbsp. sauce and 1 tbsp. feta.)