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Tuesday, May 31, 2011


These past 4 days have been a whirlwind of activity for us as we get ready to move in to our more permanent lodging.  Let's just say that updating a toilet to be ADA compliant somehow morphed in to a whole bathroom remodel that is not yet over.

And whomever coined the term " just slap some paint on it" has clearly never painted before in their life.

I'm wiped, and we're still a few days from being done, but I look forward to sharing photos of the changes!  I'm also looking forward to getting Behr's low VOC paint in Rejuvenate out of my hair.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"it was all kinds of deliciousness"

That is what I read today in Jack's nanny diary that my aunt keeps for him each day.  The "it" she was referring to was the burger that I made last night.  I sent some with Jack for lunch and my aunt decided to taste test it for quality control.  The in-laws liked it, and heck even Jack proclaimed it "dewicious".  Troy liked it, but that isn't saying much...Troy only hates 2 things in this world and he'll still eat them.

The burger recipe was from Almost Meatless, a cookbook that I checked out from the library a few weeks ago.  With limited funds, I had to curb my cookbook porn habit.  So, now I check them out from the library and if I like them I add them to my amazon wishlist for future birthday or Christmas gifts.  I LOVED this cookbook and made copious page copies before I had to return it to the library.

The burger I made was from page 87 and is called The B4 (Beef Bulgur Bean Burger).  I made some tweaks (you can't be shocked at that), and my version is below.  Please note, this did NOT grill well (too soft), but it baked on a cookie sheet beautifully in the oven.

1 cup of dried black beans, cooked
a buttload of minced garlic
1/3 of an onion, diced
1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard
1 cup of chicken stock
1/2 cup of bulgur wheat
1/4 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp of smoked paprika (you knew it would be in here somewhere...c'mon it's my fav!)
1 egg, lightly beaten
8 oz of local grassfed beef (use turkey if you don't eat red meat)
hamburger buns.  I always just make burger buns from my bread dough recipe.

Boil the chicken broth and add the bulgur wheat - stir.  Remove from heat and cover - set aside for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pulse the beans, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, and mustard in a food processor until a chunky paste forms.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl and set aside.

Add the egg, bulgur wheat, and beef to the bean mixture and stir to combine.  Form in to patties and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet.  I baked them at 375 for about 20 minutes.  SO good!

I served it with a side of Asparagus Artichoke Salad from Simply recipes.  This was fabulous!  My only edits were to add some sliced onion, and going forward I won't add olive oil - the liquid from the artichoke hearts was plenty.  My inlaws pretty much licked their plates with this salad.

This has been posted to Real Food Wednesdays, Simple Lives Thursdays, and Pennywise Platter.

Monday, May 23, 2011

5 reasons why you need to make this awesome taco salad thing

1) because it's SO good that I couldn't think of a name for it besides Awesome Taco Salad Thing
2) because it took me 10 minutes to put together and I used 1 bowl and 1 colander.
3) because I didn't have to turn on the stove or oven, and no microwave was used.  Perfect summertime dish...if we ever get summer in this neck of the woods.  Spring is still on hold.
4) because it's mostly healthy.  Mostly.
5) because it was so delicious that my father in law offered to drive to the store immediately following dinner to buy me whatever kind of ice cream I wanted.  Yep, THAT good.

This was a spur of the moment dish that I pulled straight from my ass while shopping at a local market and seeing them making fresh tostada shells.  At least I think that is what they're called.  I'm talking about those crispy fried bowl things that people only order in restaurants to eat the bowl.  You could put cat poop in the middle and people would still order those.  Thankfully for you, I created a filling that was much better than cat poop.

You know me, and know that ordinarily I wouldn't use canned beans, or pre-cut coleslaw, but this is a 10 minute dinner people and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!  It's still pretty damn healthy.

Awesome Taco Salad Thing
4 crispy taco bowl thingies
1 can of organic black beans, rinsed and drained
1 package of coleslaw blend (you want the bag with just the cabbage and carrots.  Not the one that also comes with the liquid mix stuff - barf)
1 large lime
1/2 tsp of sea salt
1/8 tsp of black pepper
1 pound of cooked shrimped, rinsed
1 cup of organic or homemade pico de gallo
1 fresh California avocado, cut in to chunks
1/4 cup of organic cilantro (tear it apart a little bit)
3 Persian cucumbers sliced.

In a colander, rinse the cabbage mix and drain.  Place in large mixing bowl.  In the same colander, rinse the cilantro and drain.  Add to bowl.  In the same colander, rinse and drain the black beans. Add those to the bowl as well.  Throw the cucumbers in with everything else.  That's right, THROW THEM IN.

Rinse the shrimp in the same colander, and drain.  Add them to the other ingredients in the mixing bowl.  Over the shrimp, pour juice from the lime, add salt and pepper.  Mix.  After everything is well incorporated, add the avocado, and mix gently.

Place 1/4 of the mixture in to each crispy taco bowl and top with 1/4 cup of pico de gallo.  You could also top with sour cream, but I'm not a fan.  I won't judge you if you like it though.  Promise.

What you get is this awesome concoction:

The market packs each shell in it's own plastic container.  I'm not a fan of all that waste, so going forward I'm just going to bring my own plastic bags and will pack them ever so gently in my cart.

And finally, let's talk about this low-quality photo.  SOMEONE and I won't name names to protect the innocent (it was me) forgot to pack the battery charger for our camera.  So, until we're out of the in-laws house and settled in to the new house some time next month, my blog will continue to feature ghetto photos from my cell phone.  Pioneer Woman, eat your heart out.

I've linked this up at Dine & Dish.  Join Dine & Dish and Cookin’ Canuck for the California Avocado 4th of July Blast, sponsored by the California Avocado Commission.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Whoopsie - Giveaway winner!

You know what happens when you have a terrible winter and spring, and then 4 nice days a row and work lets you off 90 minutes early on a Friday?  You forgot to pick a winner for your giveaway.

I used to draw the number and the winner of the $30 in coupons and Earth Dinner book was #10.  Congrats Tree Huggin Momma!
I hate Macs.  You know how many times I rotated that and saved it in iphoto?  Like a billion. And yet it remains on it's f'ing side.  Argh!
 The winner of the $20 in Organic Valley products and Earth Dinner book was # 7.  Congrats Angela!  Please contact me at beingfrugalbychoiceblog at gmail dot com to arrange delivery of the prizes!

Did the exact same thing to this photo and yet all the changes saved.  What the hell?!
I hope to have some more giveaways for you guys soon!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Homemade Lara Bars

Or Lara Balls depending on how you make them!

Have you ever tried a Lara Bar?  They're gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan to boot.  But shockingly, they are not taste-free; they're delicious.  I was dairy-free while nursing, and I ate my fair share of Lara Bars, but at $1+ a pop, they're not an every day snack.

You know what is an every day snack?  Homemade Lara Bars.

This recipe is so easy that a 2 year old can make them.  In fact, today's post is a guest post from MY 2 year old - Jack.  Take it away J bone!  (Translation by me).

Mommy, thank you vedy much for letting me write on pucuter!  Jackie loves pucuter!  Ok Mommy, we make chocolate cake like dis:

Step 1 - Remove pits from icky cockroaches - about a billion.  Add blue rocks.  Eat lots from bowl:
Translation: pit about 15 dates.  Combine with other dried fruits (we love blueberries and cranberries).
Step 2 - Take nuts.  This many:
Translation: about 1-1.5 cups of almonds or walnuts, or a mixture of both.
Step 3 - Scoop yummy powder.  Machine needs some too:
Translation: add 3 heaping TBLSP of cocoa powder.  Your food processor appreciates a sprinkle.
Step 4 - Add mommy's yummy booze.  Translation: 1 TBLSP of homemade vanilla!

Step 5 - Hit button.  Make loud:
Translation: process in food processor until the "dough" forms a big ball.
Step 6 - Make balls:
Translation: actually, that's pretty clear.  Make balls.
Step 7 - Jackie try them:
Translation: practice quality control to ensure tastiness.
Step 8 - Roll in fwakes.  Translation: roll in unsweetened shredded coconut.

Step 9 - Hide 2 from Grammy:
Translation: my MIL is obsessed with these.

Ok, so how much did these cost?  Let's run the numbers!
Dates- $8.39 for a package.  It will make 4 batches, so $2.09
Homemade vanilla - like $.04
Nuts - $.97 from the bulk section
Dried fruit - $.57 from bulk section
Coconut - $.17 from bulk section
Total: $3.84.  The recipe made 25 balls for a total of $.15 per ball.
The number of "balls in my mouth" jokes being made in the house?  Priceless.

Have you had a chance to enter my giveaway for up to $50 in organic groceries.  No strings attached.  Giveaway is now closed.  Thanks all for participating.

This is been posted on Monday Mania, frugal tip Tuesdays, Real Food Wednesdays, Simple Lives Thursday, and Pennywise Platter.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Organic Valley/Earth Dinner giveaway

I have an awesome giveaway opportunity for Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity readers!

Earth Dinner was started to get people talking about the idea of eating locally and organically grown food for 1 meal a week.  Shared with friends, the dinner becomes even better.  Check out their facebook page for ideas and to connect with others: Earth Dinner.  And while you're there, add yourself as a friend to my blog's facebook page.

To get you started on your own Earth Dinner, Organic Valley and Earth Dinner have provided me $50 in Organic Valley coupons and two Earth Dinner books to give away.  1 lucky reader will win $30 in coupons and a book, and another reader will win $20 in coupons and a book.

Here is what you need to do to win:
1) leave a comment and say you're interested.  That's it!

Special thanks to the Organic Valley family of products for providing this opportunity!

Postscript: I'm a dumb dumb and forgot to say when the drawing would be!  The random selection of the winner will take place at 8 pm PT on Friday.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Creamy Au Gratin potatoes...aka sex on a plate

Such a lovely term introduced to me by my friend Audrey.

I made these au gratin potatoes last night and they were pure awesomesauce!  Because of the long cooking time, I prepped it the night before and left it in the fridge overnight covered with foil.  As my MO is to mess with everything I made, my edits are below.


4 russet potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 onion, sliced into rings
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter (I laugh at only 3 tblsp of butter.  I threw a solid 5-6 in there)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (I was lazy and just cut it in to chunks)
Smoked paprika (which I have previously established kicks the ass of regular paprika)

1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter a 1 quart casserole dish.
2.Layer 1/2 of the potatoes into bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Top with the onion slices, and add the remaining potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3.In a medium-size saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Mix in the flour and salt, and stir constantly with a whisk for one minute. Stir in milk. Cook until mixture has thickened. Stir in cheese all at once, and continue stirring until melted, about 30 to 60 seconds. Pour cheese over the potatoes, sprinkle with paprika, and cover the dish with aluminum foil.
4.Bake 1 1/2 hours in the preheated oven.
5. Make out with plate.
6. Blog about it.
7. Realize photos of said event would increase traffic to said blog. 
8. Ideas for future posts are generated...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Wet your pants hilarious...

...well at least to me, the former management consulting corporate recruiter.  Northwest Edible Life did a hilarious post on homesteading for people moving from the corporate to the gardening life.

On my honor, this is how people used to speak at my last job.  But they were such a great bunch of people that I chose to overlook it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The perfect spring time pasta dish

I made asparagus pasta last night that was delicious to both adults AND picky toddlers!  It took a grand total of 15 minutes to make which is my kind of meal for a weeknight.  My only complaint about it is that there is a disappointing lack of bacon...

I think I stole this recipe over a year ago from Cooking Light, but I've reworked it to make it less "canola oil" and more "real food yumminess".  My edits below reflect how I made it.

Asparagus pasta
-1 lb of whole wheat pasta (I used bow ties).  Use brown rice pasta if following a gluten-free diet.
-salt & pepper to taste
-a bunch of minced garlic
-the zest of 1 medium lemon.  (Psst, Kori, this is a great recipe to use your microplane).
-1 cup of chicken broth (use vegetable broth if you follow a vegetarian diet)
-4 tbslp of butter...or a little more.  Knock yourself out!
-1 lb of asparagus cut in to 1 inch sections
-4 tblsp of olive oil (divided)
-Parmesan cheese.  Use fresh grated.  That crap in the shelf stable green can would ruin this light spring time dish.

1) In a large pot, bring salted water with 2 tbsp of olive oil to a boil.  Add pasta.  Cook according to directions.
2) Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add 2 tbsp olive oil and saute the asparagus sections.  Someone once told me to cook fresh young green veggies until they're the "color of spring".  For asparagus, that is about 2-4 minutes.  Remove cooked asparagus and set aside.
3) In the asparagus pan, add chicken broth, lemon zest, butter, garlic, and pepper.  Cook until heated through - about 2 minutes.
4) Drain pasta and return to pot.  Add asparagus and sauce mixture to the pasta.  Top with a generous helping of Parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.  Serve to picky toddlers sans asparagus.

Great additions to this dish:
- this would have been great with grilled chicken.  I served it on meatless Mondays, but a little extra protein would have been nice.
-if you like red, green, or yellow peppers or even mushrooms (barf), it would go well with the flavors.
-artichoke hearts, a few diced tomatoes, a drizzle of pesto, some pine nuts, and some shredded crab in this would have made my tongue felt like it won the lottery.  Oh crap, now I'm hungry.

This has also been posted to Real Food Wednesdays

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mostly homemade Mondays

Welcome back to Mostly Homemade Mondays, week four! It's a series for people who are striving for better food and a better lifestyle, but for whatever reason need a helping hand from a pre-made ingredient now and then.

The ground rules:
1) knock yourself out in being creative. Want to share a new recipe? Cool. Want to post a photo of something you made? Rock on with your bad self. Want to talk about a dresser you bought from a thrift store and refurbished? Back that truck up cause that is something I want to see!

2) Some part of your post should be "homemade". While a post on the Hamburger Helper you made last night doesn't seem to cut the bill, making your own casserole from meat and noodles that you didn't make from wheat you grew yourself is something to crow about!

3) If you want to, go ahead and note on your post that you're linking to this series. And if you don't want to? Well, that is no skin off my nuts.

Let's get started!

Meal plan for week of May 9-15th

Some of these items are hold outs from last week that didn't get made for whatever reason.  Like 1 day my mother-in-law cooked and another day she decided to take me out to dinner.  What a bitch.  I can't live like this!!! ;-D

Meatless Monday - a new asparagus pasta recipe (will share if it doesn't taste like poop),  and homemade garlic bread.

Tuesday - pot roast in the crockpot, lots of veggies from the crockpot, and homemade garlic bread.

Wednesday - baked chicken, au gratin potatoes, and roasted asparagus.

Thursday - Biscuits and gravy, eggs. and home canned fruit.

Friday - Homemade pizza and salad.

Saturday - Black bean burgers, steamed and then grilled artichokes with a homemade garlic aioli, and sweet potato fries.

Sunday - family dinner at my parent's.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I'm a blogging funk

I'm beat from the move last weekend and the subsequent resettling that comes with that.  Troy and Jack both have man colds, and I've been in meetings all week.

We'll return to our previously scheduled programs next week!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A great basic chicken salad recipe

As someone who is not a fan of mayo, I always assumed chicken salad was pretty gross.  For the record, I still feel that way about egg salad.  That all changed for me when I tried chicken salad from a local grocery's deli; yum!  Rather than continue to pay $7.99 a lb for chicken salad, I set out to recreate it for myself.  Thankfully, the deli posts all the ingredients for those with food allergies.  They make copying so simple for you!

Local deli chicken salad
-cooked chicken (I used pieces left over from last night's crockpot rotisserie chicken) ~2 cups
-1/4 to 1/3 cup of mayo or greek yogurt
-2 green onions
-2 stalks of celery
-1 tsp of smoked paprika
-salt and pepper to taste.

Put all ingredients in your food processor and pulse 4 or 5 times, or until it reaches your desired consistency.  Yep, that's it.

If you don't have a food processor, just shred the chicken, and finely dice the green onions and celery.

The above recipe is tailored to our preference, but wonderful additions could be sliced grapes, diced apples, and smoked almonds.  The smoked paprika is the key to this recipe.  Regular paprika will not cut it.  You can get a big thing of smoked paprika at Costco for $4.  I promise you, it's worth adding another bottle to your spice cabinet!

For a special treat, serve the chicken salad on an avocado in lieu of bread.  Yum!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mostly homemade Mondays

Welcome back to Mostly Homemade Mondays, week three! It's a series for people who are striving for better food and a better lifestyle, but for whatever reason need a helping hand from a pre-made ingredient now and then.
The ground rules:

1) knock yourself out in being creative. Want to share a new recipe? Cool. Want to post a photo of something you made? Rock on with your bad self. Want to talk about a dresser you bought from a thrift store and refurbished? Back that truck up cause that is something I want to see!

2) Some part of your post should be "homemade". While a post on the Hamburger Helper you made last night doesn't seem to cut the bill, making your own casserole from meat and noodles that you didn't make from wheat you grew yourself is something to crow about!

3) If you want to, go ahead and note on your post that you're linking to this series. And if you don't want to? Well, that is no skin off my nuts.

Let's get started!

Meal plan for May 2-8th

Monday - roasted chicken in the crockpot, I'm mashing the potatoes that are cooked with the chicken, and steaming and then grilling artichokes.

Tuesday - Veggie burgers (new recipe.  Will share if it is successful!) on homemade hamburger buns (using my bread recipe), green salad, and home canned fruit.

Wednesday - Chicken salad (made with leftover crockpot chicken) served on sliced avocados and home canned fruit.
Thursday - Split pea soup in the crockpot (will also share that new recipe if successful!), salad, homemade garlic rolls.

Friday - homemade pizza and salad.

Saturday - my nephew's 1st birthday party!

Sunday - Mother's Day and Sunday dinner with my family.

Giveaway winner!

Congrats to Goeckie on winning the Crazy Crayons Eco Star 100% Recycled Crayons!

I can't get the stupid widget to link on my blog, but here is photo of the random number drawing:
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