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Friday, March 4, 2016

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers

Vegetarian chili, topped with cheese, avocado and fried corn tortilla strips
Whole wheat toast


Homemade pizza, topped with onions, green pepper, and black olives
Frozen green beans
Candy apple salad


Spinach and onion quiche (I made 2 quiches, one for tonight and the other to freeze)
Brown rice
Frozen peas


Salisbury steak with gravy
Mashed potatoes with kale and onion
Pumpkin souffle


Vegetarian tostados -- fried corn tortillas, topped with refried beans, Spanish rice, corn, pan-roasted canned tomatoes, Cheddar cheese, black olives, green bell pepper, avocado, salsa  (these were so good. the flavor really popped on them, I think it was the cumin. Every bit as good as a restaurant, only not as greasy.)


Baked beans (while I was cooking the beans for last night, I cooked extra and baked them in a casserole dish with canned tomatoes, onions, garlic and chili powder. I knew I had a busy Wednesday afternoon on the schedule, so a little extra work on Tuesday made dinner prep, on Wednesday, super easy)
Baked butternut squash
Mish-mash of leftover starchy stuff -- some mashed potatoes/kale, some brown rice, some corn -- as they say, "enough is as good as a feast"


Corn pudding
Spinach-tomato frittata
Blackberry-apple pie

This has been a week where I felt I had to work more to think of things to prepare. This is good. It means I have used up most of the easy to prepare items, and am now working my way through the more basic ingredients. It also means that I should plan a day, soon, to prepare a bunch of things for the freezer.

It is amazing to look back and see that we only had meat for one supper, this week. We did have some cheese on 5 nights of the week, although I tried to increase beans and eggs, and use less of the cheese, when possible.

I do find it difficult to make enough of any one thing so that there are a lot of leftovers. It seems the more I make, the more everyone eats. Unless I deliberately make a double batch, to freeze or save half for another meal. But I remind myself, there's always enough, and that's what counts!

I hope you had a good week, and many delicious meals. What was on your menu this week? Anything different from your usual?


  1. Hi, Lili--
    Except for a fancy dinner out on a gift certificate someone gave us (and the two meals of leftovers from that), the notable thing we did this week was we made oven-roasted canned tomatoes from a recipe I got from a very smart, frugal woman I know (giggle), and made those into some yummy, chunky "pantry" salsa. Those roasted tomatoes are so tasty, we actually bought a couple of cans of whole tomatoes on purpose to make more, last trip to the store. First time I ever bought whole tomatoes knowingly in probably decades! :)
    Have a lovely weekend! Sara

    1. Hi Sara,
      That nice dinner out must have felt special! I love that you were able to squeeze a couple more meals out of the leftovers!
      I'm glad that you're enjoying the oven-roasted canned tomatoes. Roasting them really ramps up the flavor, doesn't it? When I just have a few tomatoes, I slice them lengthwise into quarters, and pan-roast them in a little oil. In fact I'd call it searing them, as I allow them to char just a little. Also really tasty!

      Have a great weekend, Sara!

  2. Those tostados look so good! The vegetarian chili looks good too. What is the dressing for your candy apple salad? It looks like you have nuts, and butterscotch chips in it (in addition to the apples). I'm thinking that could be good.

    Our menu...let's see:

    Sunday: My oldest son visited for the day. My husband breaded and fried chicken tenders, and onion rings. I made cole slaw.

    Monday: I made beef stew (beef from our 1/2 cow purchase from a local farm) and drop biscuits.

    Tuesday: My husband was off work that day and made homemade pizza.

    Wednesday: Subs from Subway. My youngest son has baseball practice from 7:00 - 9:00. I have to leave the house at 8:30 each night to go pick him up and don't get back home until around 9:45. The Subway was my husband's idea. I'm so exhausted from working, coming home to clean and cook, then driving over an hour that late at night. My husband had been given a Subway gift card and he thought it was the perfect night to use it...and it was a blessing!

    Thursday: I made chicken fajitas with sauteed onions, peppers and corn, and served it all with flour tortillas, shredded cheese and sour cream. I found a homemade fajita seasoning recipe online, and it's so good.


    1. Hi Angie,
      I can certainly feel for your late evenings, when picking up your son from baseball. That is exhausting. At that point in the evening, your body and mind are ready for a rest, and you still have to be on the job. It's hard. That is a blessing to have had that Subway card for an easy dinner this week. Is this an every night of the week thing? Wishing you strength to get through the season.

      It looks like someone else would like the candy apple salad recipe, so I'll type it up this weekend. It's easy and delicious -- like a cross between dessert and salad.

      Have a great weekend, Angie!

    2. The baseball practice is Monday - Thursday. As soon as the weather is better here, they will practice outside instead of in the gym. That means it will be right after school, and I can pick my son up after work and head home. I'm ready for that!

      Oh, good...I look forward to the recipe for the candy apple salad.

      You have a great weekend too. I hope it's a restful one.


    3. So at least there's an end in sight, Angie, to these late evenings! We're early March already, so it shouldn't be too much longer till your area has some better weather.

  3. Would you share the recipes for the chili and apple salad? They look and sound delicious.


    1. Hi Saryn,
      I'll type the recipe up for the salad over the weekend.

      The chili is going to be more complicated, though, as I don't really follow a recipe. But let me think. I start with browned onions (about 1 onion, chopped), then add cooked beans (about 2-3 cups--usually pintos, as they're plentiful for me, and I like the softer texture when cooked), canned tomatoes (3 cups), chopped, a bit of tomato paste ( 2 tablespoons), if I have some open, onion powder (2 teaspoons), garlic (1-2 cloves), oregano (1 teaspoon), chili powder (1 tablespoon, to start), chopped fresh green pepper (as much as I have,1 to 2 bell peppers, chopped -- towards the end, as I like my green pepper still on the bright side), salt (1/2 teaspoon to start), and then I add whatever I have leftovers of that sounds like it could blend well. This week, I had leftover refried beans, black olive slices and the liquid from the can, and some bottled, roasted red peppers, so added both of those.

      The olives make a good textural addition to a vegetarian version of chili. And the olive juice adds flavor as well as substitutes for added salt.

      Sometimes I add leftover cooked rice, corn, or cooked veggies. The corn will give it a slightly sweet flavor, which sometimes I want and others I don't.

      It's all to taste. If it tastes flat, then I add a bit more garlic, onion powder, chili powder and some cumin, and a pinch of salt. Even though I use fresh onions to start, I find the onion powder really boosts the flavor. At the very end, I thicken the chili with a slurry of flour and water, stirred in and heated until thick.

      I think this is about right. I began with my mother's recipe, years ago. So I'll have to check her recipe for amounts. If I'm off by a lot, I'll check back here and amend this, okay? But I think I somewhat accurately got the amounts.

      I'll post that apple salad recipe on Monday. It is yummy!

      Have a great weekend, Saryn!

    2. Thank you Lili! I also cook in a similar way and look at recipes as a methodology. Thank you for posting you "recipe". I have put it on the meal plan for next week since I have all but the avocado and pepper in stock. Looking forward to the candy apple salad recipe too!


    3. Hi Saryn,
      yes, a methodology -- that's about how I'd label my cooking style!

  4. Another week of tasty looking, balanced meals!! Do you find it more difficult to plan vegetarian than meat based meals?

    We had a simple food week, little cooking and shopping. I lose track of the days being retired. I know we painted the hall walls during the weekend. Finished and mailed our taxes yesterday. We had salmon ends (disgusting sounding but more moist than fillet pieces) sauteed in butter, then added zucchini to the pan after taking out the salmon. Slow cooked pork luau (from the freezer) w/coconut milk. Those were the two meals cooked. We ate a cabbage, watercress, broccoli, cucumber, tomato, tofu, topped w/sliced deli ham/roast beef fresh salad almost everyday, either for lunch or dinner. The deli meats were on clearance at Kmart for 25c, had a 50% coupon, so 9oz of deli meat for 12c. Because I bought it so close to the expiration date, I pan fried the slices before freezing. Still a welcomed addition to our salads since we are eating basically the same salad ingredients everyday. We are still swimming in bounty green onion and basil fromm our yards. We have enough bags in our freezer, so now we eating these as "vegetables". My husband blanches the green onion and ties them in a knot to be eaten with a "su-miso" dressing (miso, vinegar, sugar, sake). We add lots of basil leaves to spaghetti sauce, and it ends up tasting more like a tomato basil soup with noodles.


    1. Hi YHF,
      Can I ask, where do you find salmon ends? I've never seen something like that in our regular grocery stores, so I'm wondering. Is this something that is packaged up, or do you have to ask for them at the fish counter?

      With the basil, do you like pesto? Pesto on sandwiches is delicious, and uses a lot of basil at a time. I use it in place of mayo, as it has oil in it. And when I don't have nuts/seeds, I just make it with garlic, oil, salt and a bit of cheese, either Parmesan or mozzarella (the cheese "thins" out the strong flavor of all of that basil, but could be eliminated, too).

      As for vegetarian vs meat-based meals, it's a toss up. For me, there's ease in not having meat, I don't need to think about thawing something, or cooking meat on a bone, then deboning for adding to a casserole or soup. And with some meals, not having the meat winds up saving me one step. Like in the chili. Instead of cooking meat to add to the chili, I just skip it and add more beans. And if I haven't thawed some frozen meat, then vegetarian is easier, as I can always do eggs. But I can see the ease of cooking a piece of meat, a side of starch, and a side of veggies.

      Have a great weekend, YHF!

    2. Not many stores will sell salmon ends (actually more disgustingly called "bones and tails" on the package). Don Quixote, a Japanese store franchise, packages these ends in meat trays alongside the nicer salmon cuts like fillet and belly. These have lots of bones, but salmon is a big fish so the bones are easy to pluck out. We are choosy to not get the large center bone pieces (dry and lots of waste), but wait for the fillet edges (fattier and less waste)

      Yes, we love pesto too, and made several bags for the freezer. I don't know why the basil plants are thriving so well, they survived without any watering while we were gone on our vacation, and now new seedlings are popping everywhere. Must be the wind carrying the seeds.

      It's soon!! Have a great weekend too :)


    3. The prices for these salmon ends have gone up 50% from 99c/lb to 1.49/lb in January. We see more people these days looking at the packages trying to decide whether to take the plunge lol. I think they are being discovered by more people so the price has gone up. Sometimes at the checkout line, I'm embarrassed to buy such rubbish foods, but being retired seniors help mask all ills.


    4. YHF, don't feel self-conscious over your food choices. You could just as easily be buying the ends for fish stock, which would be very gourmet of you!

      You should see me at the check-out -- I'm forever trying to "convert" the cashiers into doing things like buying short-dated milk and freezing it, or buying the really brown bananas and reminding the cashier how much sweeter they are than the greenish ones for making banana bread and smoothies, or buying holiday candy on clearance, to double bag and save for the next year. Most of the times, their eyes glaze over. But every now and then, I get someone who might be a "convert".

    5. Thanks for your support....that's why it is nice to read your blog, for ideas AND support. Lots of times I ask myself what would Lili do....:)


  5. My husband has been down with the flu this week. I made some Thai Chicken Coconut Curry soup last night. It had homemade chicken broth, a whole roasted & shredded chicken, lots of veggies and a carton of coconut milk that I had gotten for free with a coupon. It really hit the spot--for him and for the rest of us. Melissa

    1. Hi Melissa,
      I'm so sorry that your husband has been sick this week! I hope no one else in your household catches it.

      That soup sounds delicious. And free (on the coconut milk) is always a good thing, right?!

      I am always amazed and impressed with the quantities that you need to cook on a daily basis. You could very easily run a catering business, with this skill you've developed. I'm in awe!

      Have a great weekend, Melissa! And stay well!

  6. Sunday was grilled chicken and pork steak on the grill with leftover mashed potatoes and cabbage. Monday was leftover chicken with homemade potato wedges. Wed. was the rest of the chicken made into chicken ravioli that was then made into chicken ravioli lasagna. Thurs. was two crockpots of soup--one was pea soup and the other was chicken rice soup. Tonight will be ???. Probably leftover chicken rice soup since the pea soup was so popular that I don't think there is enough of that for another meal.

    Your tostados look really good. Maybe I should do something like that this weekend.


    1. Hi Alice,
      That chicken ravioli has had me thinking about it since you mentioned making it earlier this week! I am guessing that it was delicious! Do you have 2 crockpots? I think Melissa, from comments, also has a couple of crockpots and does large batches of things like chili by using a couple at a time.

    2. Yes, I found a second, smaller crockpot at a resale shop. It was brand new but the stone insert had a chip out of the handle on the underside and that was worth cheap price tag. The chicken ravioli was from here: . I did not use frozen cheese ravioli but made my own chicken filling and no sausage. It was pretty good. I see I forgot what Tues. menu was and that was butternut squash pasta sauce with some rigatoni pasta.


    3. Thanks for the link, Alice. That chicken ravioli sounds very delicious!

  7. Lili, do you make your own fried corn tortilla strips? I love them on salads, but never thought to make my own. Your dinners look so good. We love corn tortillas here and he taste just can't be beat. Much better than anything takeout, which like you said, can be greasy. I pat mine dry with paper towels after frying, so they are not oily.

    This week I made cornbread dressing, more ranch salad dressing (my daughter really likes it and eats it on so many things), Asian salads, baked potatoes, carrot raisin salad, and sweet iced tea.

    1. Hi Belinda,
      Yes, I cut the tortillas into strips and shallow-fry them in oil, in the pan that I plan on making something else, like refried beans or sauteed vegetables for a soup. Frying the tortillas flavors the oil, too, so that's a bonus!

      Yum, your week sounds like it was a delicious one!


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