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Friday, May 20, 2016

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for May

Tostados on Friday


Tostados -- home-fried corn tortillas, medley of pinto beans, brown rice and olives in spicy sauce, topped with cheddar, lettuce, shredded carrot and dressing of mayo and homemade salsa
Canned green beans sauteed with oil and salsa
Choice of brownie or pumpkin bread for dessert


Scrambled eggs and cheese
Spaghetti noodles in leftover sauce from meatballs last week
Vegetable medley of diced carrots, frozen peas, 1 small potato chopped, butter and onion powder
Brownies/pumpkin bread


Pigs in blankets, using marked-down Lil Smokies (99 cents/package) and scratch biscuit dough
Carrot sticks
Dried cranberries
Fresh, steamed asparagus (saved the butt ends for soup)


Meatball-vegetable soup, using lots of scraps from the fridge
Toasted Cheddar cheese sandwiches
Pumpkin bread slices with cream cheese


Leftover soup (minus the meatballs), pureed with the immersion blender, really tasty
Yorkshire pudding
Blackberry-rhubarb-vanilla crisp


Black bean and cheese tacos
Green salad
Roasted carrot sticks
Dried cranberries


Easy rice bake
Oven-roasted canned tomatoes
Pumpkin bread
Rhubarb custard pie

It was another hodge-podge week. It seemed like every night I was just throwing stuff together, without any real menu idea. I'm in a bit of a slump with meals, and more into the home decorating thing this week. I suppose that is good in itself. I took care of some challenging, to me, things this week.

On the up-side with regards to cooking, I have a small dinner party coming up in June, and I got that menu planned. My son's girlfriend's parents are coming to dinner (ACK!!). We've never met them, so I'm a bit nervous. Outside of cooking holiday meals, like turkey and ham dinners, I'm not terribly proficient at dinner party cooking. But I came up with a menu, that uses a lot of what we have on hand already, and will hopefully be very delicious. Just curious, if you had to come up with a dinner party menu, using mostly what you have in stock right now, what would you prepare?

I hope you all had a great week. What was on your menu this past week?


  1. It has been a whirlwind of a week. Let me see if I can remember what we ate. Salads, pork vegetable stir fry with rice, crockpot chicken over homemade noodles, I can't remember one day - I'm thinking it was chicken sausages as a light meal. Tonight? who knows.

    I got the kids home from college and what a lot of stuff. We did all the laundry before packing away the "college stuff" for the summer and they are organizing text books to keep and to sell. They are all heavily into their majors to not so much selling going on.

    I made the crockpot chicken yesterday and homemade noodles and pulled out my bread machine for a loaf of bread with the meal. I haven't used it in years and it was quite fun using my 24 year old bread machine. I wanted to defrost my deep freezer but didn't have time. I should do that tonight and get it organized. I think I am out of chicken so I have to organize while the level is low. I also need to talk to the kids about cleaning up after themselves (not dirty things but leaving the laptop on the couch overnight or backpacks beside the couch) and also find out who needs to pack lunches this summer and what do they want in those lunches. Stuff like that. But it is good to have the kids home but it will be a very busy summer of 6 people going different ways every day, all day.


    1. Hi Alice,
      I can imagine the busy week that you've had, with getting all 4 kids settled for the summer. My 2 students still have 3 weeks of classes/exams. One will begin summer work the Monday right after, the other will have a week to get settled before her job begins.

      Reading your comment about the bread machine and I find myself stunned that bread machines have been around that long. But I guess they have. Did yours work okay? Mine has some sort of gasket problem, so I haven't used it in several years, but I've held onto it, in hopes of finding a way to repair it.

      Yes, I believe you will have a very busy household this summer!

      Have a great weekend, Alice!

    2. I have taken really good care of my bread machine and it works really well and it is quiet too! Even though it only makes one loaf, everyone was delighted that I took it out and used it!

  2. As soon as I finish this comment I'll remember what I served Wednesday. We had left overs on Sunday since there was only 3 of us at home. On MOnday I pulled out a frozen pan of ground beef tortillas, cheese tortellini in Tuesday, garlic sausage and pirogues last night. Then daughter came home with all the fixings of a meeting she was at, Greek lemon potatoes, chicken souvlaki on skewers, tzatziki sauce and pita bread and Greek salad. The salad needs eating today. The rest we are dividing for Friday/ Saturday meals.
    My husband frequently brings left over cookies from meetings home.
    I frequently do a prime rib when I host family gatherings. Everyone loves the leftovers . I purchase them when at their rock bottom price and freeze. I have a large one ready for a family gathering in June.
    I also do a lovely butter chicken.
    I like to have easy appetizers and I have a system down for having the food out easy to serve and keep conversation up.
    So I think it was Maya Angelou who said it won't matter what you did or said but how you made some one feel that they will remember.
    We are meeting boyfriend parents now and I have to remember this:) especially when it seems like it is becoming serious.

    This week I received an email from someone who had worked with me about 10 years ago. I frequently hosted team meetings in my home. She was emailing because she remembered how I always had a lovely spread:)
    She was wanting some information as she was now in the position of hosting group events.
    I was tickled that she remembered the efforts I had made so many years ago.

    1. Hi Teresa,
      Your meals sound delicious! And how nice that your daughter's meeting leftovers can be stretched for tonight and tomorrow.

      I'm not terribly good with roasts. I have a tendency to overcook them, and I know that's exactly what you're not supposed to do with prime rib. What do you consider a rock bottom price for prime rib?

      I really appreciate the quote from Maya Angelou. It's so true. And I'd really rather have someone remember me as kind and friendly, than just as a good cook.

      What a thoughtful former co-worker. That's such a nice compliment that she paid you.

      Have a great weekend, Teresa!

    2. A meat thermometer can be a great tool to use:)
      I'm in Canada and recently I have purchased them at Costco when they were pricing to match a competitor at about $15.00/kilo
      I look at food preparation, gifts of meals and having people over as a "love" language of mine.
      My SIL,bill and FIL are touched and so grateful when I pack up the leftovers for a meal that they would rarely cook for themselves. It's an additional,gift of time for them in their schedules to have a meal for one evening after one of our family meals . When I include some appetizers , home made rolls ,salads and desserts, I know they can squeeze so many more meals in the week following.
      When one of my kids does the meal preparation on days I am busy. I so appreciate it, so I knew my in laws probably would also��

    3. Hi Teresa,
      I forgot you were in Canada. If I did my math correctly, then your recent price was about $6.80/lb.
      I like your attitude towards entertaining. And I'm sure your guests feel very welcomed in your home.

  3. Hi Lili,

    Using what I have, I could make up an informal dinner party with a hot chicken salad casserole, meatballs, a broccoli casserole, salad, some kind of homemade rolls, and ice cream and cupcakes for dessert. Thanks for making me have a "brain workout"!

    Have a good weekend,
    Jo Ann

    1. Hi Jo Ann,
      Your menu would make a wonderful dinner for guests! And it doesn't sound too complicated, either.

      Have a great weekend, Jo Ann!

  4. I have trout and whole chicken in the freezer either one would be worthy of guests. probably cooked on the BBQ.

    1. Hi frugal spinster,
      Either of those would make a great main dish for guests! And I love the simplicity of grilled foods. Easy on the cook, mess stays outside, and guests seem to enjoy hanging out by the grill with you (free entertainment, watching the grilling).

      Have a great weekend, frugal spinster!

    2. I frequently have a roasted chicken. I call them God's Fast Food. Even in a frozen state they will be done fine in 2.5 hours. Sometimes I would dash home after school, throw one in the oven and then do all the driving around. I'd be home and it would be done. In a crockpot they are almost fool proof.
      I remember years ago having a friend drop by when I was cooking one and giving a lesson on how easy they are to cook.

  5. If there are no dietary concerns with your guests, I would go with the grilled food dinner idea. It's more casual and I think guests, especially ones you haven't met yet, would be more comfortable with that rather than a meal with linens and china. Didn't you mention you have a bonfire area? They might think it's fun to hang out there, weather permitting. You could even roast marshmallows or make s'mores. If you have garden munchies available then, maybe a veggie platter before dinner with some sort of dip for people to munch on. Iced tea and maybe some lemonade always seem festive, and the tea, especially, is super frugal. People who are new to each other seem to need something to do or to hold on to--appetizers and beverages fill in that gap nicely. You don't have to be a brilliant chef--if the food is edible and the company is pleasant (and I know you can whip up a brilliant dessert!), you've done what you need to do. I'm sure your son has picked out a lovely girl to date, and usually lovely people have great parents. :)

    1. Hi Kris,
      I'll have to ask my son's girlfriend about allergies or food restrictions. Although I haven't met her parents, my son raved about them, after visiting and meeting them for the first time in March. They were very good to him. I'm sure they'll be lovely to have in our home. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

      have a great weekend!

  6. If you want to serve a dish that is not familiar to the Chinese, I'm thinking casserole...the flavors in American/European cooking and the concept of an oven baked one dish meal. However, not much cheese is present in their diet, so maybe lactose intolerance is a concern. Casserole is a comfort food, and maybe too lowly and not appropriate for a dinner party? But maybe as a side dish?

    We're making another batch of chicken soup with homemade noodles again this week because we had a free rotisserie (and free mashed potato, apple pie, $25 GC, and upgrade to Sam's Plus) from joining Sam's Club (offer still available til 5/23). We enjoyed the free food for several days this week. Husband pan fried eggplant (from previous week's farmers market), garden basil and tomatoes, went very well with the rotisserie chicken. However, in making the soup this morning, he forgot to save the water used for blanching green onion and kang kong. He dumped the veggie water out and filled with fresh water to make chicken stock....after a long discussion this morning about saving the water for soup!! Some habits are so hard to break, so I told him you have to stop, and THINK before you throw anything away. However, I remembered to rinse the rotisserie container clean and poured any leftover juices from the basil eggplant dish and sauteed mushrooms (Baby Bella from Sam's at a lower price than white button) into the chicken pot. With just 2c. flour, we froze enough homemade noodles for our next batch of soup.

    Have a great weekend!!


    1. My apology...I made the assumption without asking first, since you mentioned in a past post that your son's gf's parents live in Shanghai.

      Also, I am only familiar with local Chinese culture, which is more a melting pot of influences.


    2. Hi YHF,
      Now that is a frugal soup -- the chicken part made with free chicken. Good deal at Sam's Club for you! And the accompaniment of tomatoes, basil and eggplant sounds so yummy! I love eggplant!

      Yes, my son's girlfriend's parents are from China (Shanghai). I am planning on going light on the cheese/dairy, as a just in case thing, but also as it's bad news for my digestive system. But this is what I've been thinking (and uses ingredients that I have, mostly):

      a penne and meatball bake (casserole), it does have cheese, but I won't add a whole lot, mostly as I can't eat it. I may even just pass a bowl of Parmesan cheese, and not add cheese to the pasta, marinara and meatballs
      a chicken dish either with peppers, onions, garlic and zucchini -- or, chicken with new potatoes and rosemary, garlic, herbs, and onions
      a large green salad from the garden
      maybe a veggie side dish
      garlic bread
      fresh strawberries from the garden and cookies for dessert -- or a berry crisp

      An Italian theme, which is easy for me (we eat a lot of Italian and quasi-Italian, here), can be done ahead, and uses some ingredients from my garden.

      Thank you for your suggestions. I appreciate them.

      Have a great weekend, YHF!

    3. Italian theme sounds wonderful. Meatball penne pasta will be a treat visually as well. I'm sure China is very international, especially Shanghai, so it won't be totally foreign, just not their usual fare.

      You are very welcoming, so your dinner party will have a nice, warm atmosphere. Also your home and family always shine wholesome goodness from your faith and loving care, it will without a doubt impress. And your culinary skills are without question. You're there, no need to worry!! Your son is very fortunate to have the parents he has.


  7. I like all of the dinner party suggestions---especially Kris's. I think I would go for something typically "American" or special to your family. If I am visiting another place, I want to know about the place and the people. That's why a BBQ sounds great along with food from your garden.

    As always, your menu sounds good also. And you have a knack for making things lovely no matter what you serve, so all will be well.


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