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Friday, February 19, 2016

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers and we're eating well this week!

Homemade wonton soup (yes, I made the wontons myself -- and this soup was so wonderful!)
Fruit salad of banana, orange segments and dried cranberries
Pumpkin pie

Chicken, rice, spinach, onion enchiladas
Chocolate chip cookies

Sunday Brunch
Heart-shaped pancakes with red currant syrup
Crustless mini quiches with spinach, onion and sausage
Fruit salad
Cream puffs filled with frozen strawberries and whipped cream

We had a late lunch with my father-in-law and his wife, so when we came home, no one was hungry. I made a bowl of popcorn and some cocoa

Southwest pumpkin, bean, potato soup, topped with avocado, salsa and Cheddar cheese
Pumpkin muffins
Rhubarb-plum sauce

Egg salad sandwiches
Roasted tomato soup
Pumpkin pie (from freezer, last pie from the batch)

Meatloaf with gravy (I made 2 and froze the other one)
Mashed potatoes (extras so I can make a turkey-rosemary-potato soup in a day or two)
Oven-roasted canned tomatoes
Grilled onions
Pumpkin pie

I have to thank YHF for her suggestions and encouragement on making wontons last week. The only time I have made wontons before, they were the cream cheese filled kind that you deep fry (popular at bridal showers in the 80s). In this week's wontons, I used ground pork, finely chopped fresh mushrooms, onion powder, garlic powder, ginger powder, soy sauce and corn starch. After forming them, I froze them all on a baking sheet, then transferred them to a ziploc bag for freezer storage. When making the soup, I used chicken stock, onion, garlic powder, onion powder, ginger powder, soy sauce, chive blossom vinegar, and salt as the broth. To that, I added a few tablespoons of thawed, frozen spinach, a beaten egg, frozen peas and some dices of tofu. I brought the liquid back to a simmer, and dropped in the wontons, set the time for 7 minutes, and put the cover on the pot. Once the timer rang, they were done. I have to say, this soup was restaurant-caliber, it was that good. I think it was a combo of the ground pork, garlic and mushrooms in the wontons. The flavors were fantastic together.

Saturday's enchiladas were no slouch meal, either. Thanks again to Belinda, from Frugal Workshop for her quick and easy enchilada sauce recipe (using paprika, chili powder, salt, oil and flour). Enchiladas are becoming a "regular" in our house. I love enchiladas, for their taste, of course, but also they're a great way to use up leftovers, deliciously. This week's enchiladas had the last of the chicken that I picked off the bones, when making stock for the wonton soup plus some thawed frozen spinach lingering in the fridge too many days, and leftover cooked rice. I added chopped onions, garlic powder, tomato sauce, onion powder, black olive juice and chili powder to the chicken/rice/spinach mix for flavor.

I listed Sunday's brunch menu, instead of a supper menu, as the brunch was our main meal of the day. Dinner was free burgers from Jack-in-the-box, and a buy one, get one medium curly fries w/coupon). I made sauteed spinach and green beans in some bacon fat at home to go with the burgers and fries. This dinner cost $3.49 for the one order of curly fries that we paid for. The burgers were so huge (double patties), that all of us cut ours in half before even taking one bite. We saved the halves for the next day. That $3.49 comes out of our "entertainment" budget, by the way.

Tuesday's soup was remarkably good, considering I was combining two thoughts, a pumpkin soup and a Mexi-inspired soup. And avocado on top of thick soup is quite good, in case you're needing to use up some ripening avocados.

I had some boiled eggs lingering in the fridge way too long. My boiled egg eater has gone off of boiled eggs! So we needed to use them this week. I made sandwiches both Wednesday night and for Thursday's lunch. The ones in Thursday's lunch also had some slices of ripe avocado on them. Creamy and delicious! And the roasted tomato soup sounds much fancier than it was. I used all of the canned tomato liquid (which was more like a puree), and diced up the last of the oven-roasted tomatoes from earlier in the week. To this, I added sauteed onions (which got a little over-done, but the burnt bits kind of blended in with the roasted tomatoes), onion powder, garlic powder, and salt. Good for something so simple.

What was on your menu this past week? Anything that really stood out as something you want to repeat soon?


  1. Hi Lili,

    That soup looks delicious!

    We had an eventful week so dinners were a bit odd. Monday was leftovers from last Friday and Sunday which was pork roast or spaghetti. Tuesday was leftovers again since there were enough for everyone. Wednesday was pork hard-shelled tacos with all the fixings. Thursday was grilled steak and chicken with jasmine rice and green beans. Tonight, well, who knows. Hubby is a bit sick right now and he's not very hungry. It's just been a long week and I'm really tired. I wish I could snap my fingers and have something suddenly appear. The freezer has no pre-made meals right now so we will have to wing it tonight.


    1. Hi Alice,
      I'm sorry your husband isn't feeling well this week. Hopefully he'll be back to his usual self in a couple of days.

      It sounds like you had a lot of leftovers to use up this past week. That's always nice.

      Have a good weekend, Alice!

  2. Oh, yum!! Everything looks and sounds so delicious. Don't you love it when you have a week of cooking that really knocks your socks off? :) I am definitely going to try making my own wontons -- I read that thread with interest last week, but haven't been able to find ground pork (at a price I want to pay). Did you purchase wonton wrappers or make them yourself? Your wonton soup sounds a lot like what we do with premade ramen noodles. Soy and ginger flavors have become almost like a comfort food to me, which is interesting since I grew up eating pretty traditional PA Dutch type foods.

    We had a good week of food, too. Probably the stand outs so far were the rustic ham and bean soup I made on Sunday (rustic because my husband was responsible for chunking up the ham and I hadn't realized how big the pieces were :) ) and a sweet potato chili that turned out to be way better than the sum of its parts. It's a crockpot recipe and I wasn't sure about it when I left, but pureeing part of the soup and adding a little chipotle at the end transformed a plain dish into something spectacular. We've also eaten cajun red beans & rice, smothered cube steaks, mushroom & cheddar quiche and are looking forward to broiled tofu this weekend. Since it's just the two of us, we usually forage for things a couple of nights a week as well.

    1. Hi Laura,
      for the ground pork, I used my food processor to "grind" a small chunk of boneless pork loin. I knew I only wanted a small amount of ground pork for wontons, so I didn't want to buy a whole package. Do you have any pork roasts in the freezer?

      That sweet potato chili sounds very interesting! I never would have thought to use sweet potatoes in chili. How yum!

      Have a great weekend, Laura!

    2. Forgot to add, I bought the wonton wrappers. They were about $1 for a package of about 40, I think.

  3. I was thinking about your won ton soup this week, hoping it was a hit. Sometimes our won tons are a bit off...not enough flavors so we fix it by using a homemade dipping sauce. That's where husband's keen sense of taste is helpful...he sits down, takes a bite, and says it needs more this or that, whips up a sauce, which does improve the flavors. Also, we do make and freeze won tons ahead too, but you want to be careful not to refreeze any meats (cell membranes breakdown and become susceptible to spoilage). My guess is that wonderful flavor of pork (or any meats) cooked in mushrooms is what is known as a fifth sensory taste identified as "umami" by a Japanese chemist (Wikipedia). I get the same pleasure eating "nishime" stew, the key ingredient being meat stewed with konbu and mushrooms, no garlic and ginger. So I'm thinking, it's the mushrooms. Lili, I'm just beyond happy I could help in any way :)

    Our meals this week has been leftovers from when the grandkids were over. Our son had a bunch of those JITB coupons from his workplace, so we got another 6 burgers (3 grandkids and my dad was with us too). We saved the extra patty from the double burger, and made a pot of chili (using 4 patties) for the kids and enough leftover for two more meals for ourselves. Also on the menu for three days with the grandkids...ribs and pulled pork, shoyu chicken, fried rice, spam musubi, homemade pizza, cole slaw, toss salad, saute zucchini and mushrooms. I couldn't wait to eat my normal foods, the same old bean party with pesto on rice with canned peas...yum!


    1. Since making a food budget goal of $200 a month, I've had to figure where the additional cost for grandkids meal should go. I carved $50 out and considered it "grandkids", a but high, but that amount includes the goodie bag I made for the oldest grandson with soaps, toothpaste, zipper bags, and other household supplies that I usually add in the food budget. Maybe I'm doing a little cheating here by overinflating a tiny bit, but since husband has the task of watching the food budget thought I'd be nice:)


    2. Thanks again, for your help, YHF! I'll be making wontons again soon -- I have about 1/3 package of wrappers left.

      Those Jack in the Box burgers were huge! We wound up eating the second halves for a hearty breakfast one morning. And I was full all day!

      Here's my thought on budgets, and designating amounts -- it's only cheating if you are budgeting more than you have. Allocating money to an entertainment and fun segment, for us, is just a way of allowing us to do special things which enhance our life with friends and family. Your having a section of the budget for doing things for your grandkids is the same,I would think. It allows you to be freer with that money, so you can enjoy your time with the grandkids. I do track that spending, too. You might want to estimate each month, if you're spending about that $50 on things/meals for the grandkids. If at the end of the year, you have a lot you haven't used on them, you can either scale back the amount you've designated for GK, or do a big splurge for them with that surplus.

    3. In past years, I never bothered to carve out the foods we gave away, or likewise what was given to us. I only recorded what I actually spent at the stores. But the goal this year is to shape our buying, food preparation and eating habits, so I had to figure a cost to buying foods that were not typical of how we eat daily. I may take another look, and do a better estimate. You're right, we should be fair to ourselves or it defeats the whole purpose of keeping track. But my poor husband is waiting for a surplus (going under his $200 allotment) so he can reward himself with his favorite sweet meats from the Chinese takeout, and he did all the cooking, so I gave him a break. At the end of February, my total food spend will seem incredibly small, so far about $160, plus the $50.


  4. You all have had such yummy meals. There was much incorporation of leftovers. You were diligent in using up what you had already purchased. Isn't it true about the egg salad, if someone makes extra and offers it in our home for a lunch it is also quickly accepted. It's the gift of time saved also.

    1. Hi Theresa,
      thank you. We are going through a phase of more leftovers than previously. So I am having to be more diligent in getting those eaten or used in other meals.
      Leftovers -- now there's a first-world problem!

  5. I miss Jack in the Box. They are not here in the East, but we had them in Texas. They had a particularly good rice bowl.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I've never tried the rice bowls. I do love the onion rings, though!


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