Going Meatless on Monday

It’s Meatless Monday! Meatless Monday is a non-profit campaign aimed at reducing meat consumption in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.

But what about protein? 

No worries. You can get plenty of protein without eating meat. Check out Heather Levin’s excellent post: Frugal Ways to Get More Protein

What should I make? 

If you’re used to eating meaty meals, it can be difficult to make the shift to meatless. You may need some inspiration! Angela Barton has posted some great meatless ideas:

If cutting back on your meat consumption seems impossible, try cutting back on your red meat consumption. Red meat has the biggest impact on your personal health and our environment.

Go Meatless on Monday (or any day) and post your results here. What did you make? Was it good? Please share.

The Meatrix (factoryfarm.org)

Summertime, and the eatin’ is amazing

It’s summertime. Time for great produce.

This weekend my sister was in town and we enjoyed the summer harvest. We made our food and consumed everything outside, something worth cherishing in Seattle.

The weekend lineup? First up we had a caprese salad of sorts. I chopped up tomatoes, avocado, fresh mozzarella, basil and purple cabbage. I dressed the salad with a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. I never thought I would say this, but the cabbage was the critical ingredient because it gave the salad a much needed crunch.

 cabbagesalad

Next up was another salad that included lettuce, three types of roasted beets (from the farmer’s market), apricots, candied pecans and herbed goat cheese. Again, I drizzled the salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

beetsalad

And finally, Sunday morning we enjoyed a stack of pancakes with fresh blueberries.

blueberrypancakes

What a great weekend! There are many great restaurants in Seattle, but we enjoyed staying home and eating summer food al fresco. Our homemade meals where peaceful, complete with bird chirps and water trickling, tasty (not the birds, but the food), less expensive than a restaurant and the parking was free. You can’t beat that.

Ah… summertime. When the eating is amazing.

Cabbage

After getting some great cabbage suggestions last week, I’m inspired to eat more cabbage. Cabbage is cheap and has a wonderfully long fridge life; a great frugal vegetable.

Recipes

I adlibed the salads so I don’t have a recipe to share. If you don’t like goat cheese, gorgonzola or bleu cheese work great with the fruit and candied nuts in the second salad.

I added fresh blueberries to the Light and Fluffy Pancake recipe from Cook’s Illustrated (included in The New Best Recipe cookbook). Why buy a pancake mix?

How about you? Are you enjoying the summer harvest? Please leave a Comment or a recipe.

Cold brewed iced coffee

This year summer started in Seattle before July 5, leaving Seattleites joyful and a little befuddled. Coffee is a staple of Seattle, along with rain, moss, and socks with sandals. When the temperature creeps above 78, my coffee sports ice.

icedcoffee

I’ve been making iced coffee for years and just tried something new. I made cold-brewed coffee. Yes, apparently hot water is not needed to brew a good cup of joe. I brewed up some coffee in my fridge. Overnight. In cold water.

I got the idea from Lifehacker, but a post by Rachel Meeks at Small Notebook inspired me to take action. (Thanks Rachel!) 

Rachel’s cold-brewed coffee recipe

  1. The night before, add 1/4 cup coarse ground coffee and 1 cup cold water to your container. I made mine in a French press, but you could use a glass jar.
  2. The next morning add 1 more cup of water.
  3. Strain and pour the coffee over ice.

I add a generous amount of milk and a touch of sugar. That’s it.

With a little night-before planning you can be drinking iced coffee in minutes, without any fuss or a trip to a coffee shop. That is, if you like iced-coffee.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy coffee? Please leave a comment.

Possibly related link: Frappuccino alternatives

Frappuccino alternatives

When it’s hot, I love cold coffee drinks: iced lattes and sugary Frappuccino-style coffee drinks. While I enjoy an occasional Starbucks Frappuccino®, I don’t make it a regular thing. Instead, I make Frappuccino-style drinks at home using a mix from Mocafé.

mocafe

I’ve tried a couple different mixes and so far Mocafé is my favorite – with it’s Trinidad cocoa, Brazillian Arabica coffee, and a dash of cinnamon. I buy Original Mocafe Frappe mix at a restaurant supply store called Cash & Carry.

A 3 lb container makes 35 servings if you use the 2 scoop serving size, but I use 1 1/2 scoops so I get 46 servings. Using 1 1/2 scoops started as a calorie saving measure, and I found 1 1/2 scoops was sweet enough. So let’s see… $14 for 46 servings, or 31 cents per drink + the cost of milk (19 cents). 50 cents per Mocafe vs $4 per Frappuccino. 

homemadefrap

Making a Mocafé Frappé

  1. Add 1 1/2 scoops of Mocafé Frappé to your blender.
  2. Fill a 12 oz glass with ice cubes and then fill the glass with milk.
  3. Pour the milk and ice into your blender and blend ’til smooth.

If you can’t find Mocafe locally, Amazon sells it. Another frapp mix I’ve seen locally is Big Train.

OR – bag the mix and make your own Frappuccino-style beverages. Try a variation of this recipe:

 Do-It-Yourself Frapp

  • A 12 ounce glass filled with ice (about 2 cups)
  • ½ cup espresso or strong coffee
  • 3/4 cup milk or use a mix of milk and half-n-half 
  • 2 teaspoons sugar or whatever your sweet tooth desires
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate syrup or 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • a couple shakes of cinnamon
  • a scoop of vanilla ice cream (optional)

Add everything to your blender and blend ’til smooth. 

If you like Frappuccino-style drinks, it’s worth tinkering with the DIY Frapp recipe. When you make your own Frapps, you can control the sweetness and the quality of the ingredients. You can also make sure that nasty things like corn syrup solids and partially hydrogenated oil don’t slip into the blender.

Homemade coffee blended drinks are simple, refreshing and inexpensive. Why not blend some up?

Do you have a favorite cold coffee drink? Please share anything remotely coffee related in a Comment.

Money saving sites from LifeHacker

Here are a few money saving web sites from LifeHacker that you might find useful.

neighborhoodfruit

The first site is intriguing to me because of my quest to reduce food waste. It’s called Neighborhood Fruit. The site helps people find and share fruit that’s grown in urban neighborhoods (aka back yards). Fruit grown in back yards is often wasted. Neighborhood Fruit puts back yard fruit in the hands of someone who wants it. If you have extra fruit or would like to harvest some, it’s worth a look.

The next site specializes in recipes for inexpensive food with a long shelf life – canned food. Typically I’m not a canned food advocate, but I often need last-minute dinner options and canned food fits the bill. Canned foods are quick, relatively healthy, and cheap because you can stock up on them when they’re on sale.

Canned Food UK is interesting because the recipes are a little different then say… Canned Food US. There are recipes for jacket potatoes and numerous recipes that include baked beans. The ingredients are in metric, but you can easily convert the metric measurements. For example a 410g can of red kidney beans is a 14.5 ounce can.

Here’s the pitch: Canned Food UK can improve your metric skills, help you use your existing canned food (see my related post on skipping grocery shopping for week), and open your mind to new canned food options. For example, there’s a recipe for Crushed Pesto Potatoes that uses canned potatoes. I’ve never tried canned potatoes. Am I missing something?

And finally LifeHacker mentioned a prescription comparison tool called Medtipster. The interface couldn’t be simpler. Enter your prescription name and zip code, and the site returns a list of pharmacies with prices for your prescription. Who knows, you might be able to save a few bucks.

medtipster

That’s it for today. Do you know a great money saving web site? Please leave a Comment.

Granola recipe: Simple and amazing

naturevalley

I love granola. I started with Nature Valley granola bars as a kid, and graduated to boutique granola that costs a small fortune. Well, no more expensive granola for me. I made an inexpensive granola last week and it tasted amazing. Like most things, homemade granola is light years better than store bought. I’m done buying granola.

Making granola lets me make it just how I like. I can control the sweetness and the ingredients. And it’s super easy to make. Making granola is not rocket science. Who knew?

I found Melinda’s Homemade Granola Recipe at Slashfood and made a few modifications.

Kate’s Oats ‘N Honey Granola Recipe

2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup raw almonds cut as fine as you’d like
3/4 cup orange flavored cranberries
3/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup cooking oil – I used safflower oil once and olive oil another time
1/2 cup honey

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add 1 cup chopped nuts and 2 cups of oats (don’t add the fruit just yet).
  2. Add 1/4 cup of cooking oil (I used safflower).
  3. Add 1/2 cup of honey.
  4. Stir until everything is coated with a sticky goo and pour in to a baking pan. 
  5. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring the mixture every 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, it should be a nice golden brown.
  6. granolabefore
    Granola before baking
  7. Return the baked granola, the oats and nuts, to your mixing bowl and add your dried fruit. 
  8. Stir it all together and that’s it!
  9. granolaafter
    The final product

Try some granola warm, right out of the oven. It’s simply amazing. Once the granola has cooled, store it in an air tight container and nibble away. Granola is great straight up, with milk, or on top of yogurt. This granola was a big hit with my non-granola eating kids and my book club.

Variations that I tried and liked: shredded coconut, dried banana chips (chopped), dried blueberries, and currants. Next up, I want to try adding raw seeds and different nuts.

This recipe uses honey, but I’ve seen granola recipes that use maple syrup or a combination of the two. Experiment and see what you like.  

For those hot days when turning on the oven seems outrageous, Leigh Meyer at compact by design has a couple oven alternatives: crockpot and microwave granola recipes.

What’s your favorite granola ingredient or recipe? Please share with a Comment.

Got vegetables and water? Make broth

After buying vegetable broth for let’s see… my entire life, I decided to save a few bucks and some packaging by making my own. I always have vegetables and water, so why not give it a try? 

veggiebroth

Making vegetable broth

  1. Find some vegetables and put them in a large stockpot. 
    Look at the back of your fridge. Veggies that are a little past their prime are good here. Use whatever you have. Use some vegetable pieces that you might normally discard. Things like the center of cauliflower, the thick stems of broccoli, or the tops of leeks. Plan ahead and save your vegetable trimmings in the fridge.
  2. Smash some garlic cloves and add them to the pot.
  3. Add some big onion chunks if you like.
  4. Add salt, pepper, and any fresh herbs that you have on hand. I used parsley and some cilantro.
  5. Fill the pot with water.
  6. Heat the water til it boils, then cover the pot and let the veggies simmer for an hour or so.
  7. Let things cool a bit and then pour your broth through a colander.

That’s it! Pretty simple huh?

Homemade vegetable broth is great because it’s simple, economical, and green. Green? Since vegetables don’t typically come in packages, making vegetable broth saves a package or two. For me, I get excited anytime I can save packaging and money. Also, I love the idea of using something I already have (vegetables) to make something I used to buy (vegetable broth).

In an hour I made a big pot of broth. Not wanting to waste my efforts here’s what I did:

  1. Made matzah ball soup later in the day.
  2. Drank a warm mug of the broth right away.
  3. Filled a jar with broth and popped it in the freezer.
  4. Drank a cold glass of broth the next day. I read about someone doing this every morning. Fountain of youth? Seems like a healthy thing to do, although I can think of tastier cold beverages. 
  5. Added some leftover Korma Simmer Sauce (from Trader Joes) to my broth – yummy lunch.

Do you make your own broth? What veggies do you use? Please leave a Comment.