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Friday, June 24, 2016

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for mid-June (lots of berries!)


Huevos Rancheros
Warm corn tortillas
Spinach salad with creamy salsa dressing
Chocolate pudding


Homemade veggie pizza, w/onions, tomato, and green pepper
Large tossed salad (given to us)
Fresh strawberries from garden
Brownies (given to us)

Sunday (Father's Day)

Hot dog cookout, hot dogs on
Homemade buns
Carrot sticks
Tossed green salad
Fruit salad


Black beans, tomato and rice
Tossed salad
Fresh strawberries from garden
Leftover brownies (given to us on Saturday)


Kale-tomato frittata
Soybean falafel
Fresh-baked whole wheat bread
Leftover sausage, gravy and biscuits (from Sunday brunch)
Tapioca pudding (I found 1/4 cup of tapioca pearls in the cupboard, the day before, so soaked overnight to make pudding for Tuesday night)
Fresh raspberries from garden


Black bean chili (vegetarian, mostly, but flavored with chicken fat/stock)
Asian noodle and veggie salad over lettuce leaves
Fresh berries from garden (raspberries and strawberries)
Bread and fresh vanilla-rhubarb butter


Marinara sauce over steamed kale and pasta (and a bit of leftover rice), topped with mozzarella and baked
Mixed green salad (saving the greens for tonight. It turns out I made too much dinner last night)
Steamed carrots
Vanilla pudding, topped with almond slivers and fresh berries

It's been one of those weeks where I keep finding things to use up in the fridge and pantry. Little bits of this and that, like the soybean/almond/coconut okara (from making soy-almond milk), a small amount of green pepper needing using (put on homemade pizza), a small handful of tapioca pearls in the cupboard, canned tomatoes from a large can that had been opened about week ago, olive liquid (went into chili), and various leftovers. A couple of the dinners sound like large meals, but in reality were lots of small amounts of many things. And we continue to eat a lot of eggs.

How was your week? Anything especially delicious for dinner this past week?

Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. Your menu looks so good especially the asian noodle salad. I love cold salads in the summer. My menu was filling but I'm not feeling much like cooking in the humidity. Here's what we had:
    Sunday –roast chicken with mashed potatoes and green bean, watermelon
    Monday-taco chicken tostados, rice, watermelon and anyone could have leftover potatoes and beans
    Tuesday-beef stew with carrots and potatoes
    Wednesday- BBQ on buns
    Thursday-grilled pork, corn and bean salad

    Have a nice weekend, Lili!


    1. Hi Alice,
      I love cold salads, too. I can make them early in the day and then in the afternoon, when my energy sags, it's waiting for us in the fridge.
      Your roast chicken sounds very yummy to me. It's been a while since we've had chicken. I need to wrangle that 10-lb package of frozen chicken thighs in order to fix chicken. Maybe that will be today's extra chore. Yum, watermelon! I'm hoping to find a great sale on watermelon for the 4th. I'd like to buy a couple, as I can eat watermelon morning, noon and night.

      Have a great weekend, Alice! And thanks again for sharing photos of your garden!

    2. Alice,
      I love your garden. It is so cheerful. It gives me ideas for the condo.

    3. I liked your garden pictures, also, Alice.

  2. Since I'm not a good cook, my cooking is always hit or miss, never consistent, so on Father's Day I thought it would be a better treat for my husband if we ate out. He chose to take out from his favorite Chinese deli, and that took care of several meals. Since I'm watching my diet, I ate salad dishes while he ate leftovers for days. He thoroughly enjoyed it since these days it is rare for us to take out or eat restaurant style. However, just two days later we were unexpectedly invited to dinner at Ruby Tuesdays. It was our grandson's birthday, and he wanted us to join him on his special day. On Wednesday, I made a pork with cabbage dish to use up some beer that had been sitting in the fridge way too long. Yesterday, we had McD 59 cent ice cream cones for lunch while shopping, and for dinner had our old standby...bean patty tacos. I think it was a lazy week cooking wise.

    Our cucumber plants yielded at least 10 pounds in our first harvest, so we've been busy eating them in salads and tacos. Our daughter gave us some avocados from her tree, so that made our same old meals extra special. Our tomato plant suddenly died, luckily we froze a gallon sized bag full of the cherry tomatoes, and they are even yummier frozen in our salads (our granddaughter said it tastes like candy).

    Lili, how did the soybean falafel taste, any different than making it with chickpeas? I had to google to find out what that was. I may take a break from making soymilk, since we bought four cases of short dated Hershey single serve milk (not chocolate flavored, but plain white milk). We froze them and that should last a long while.

    Have a nice day!!


    1. Hi YHF,
      Since you've stopped eating out so often, taking your husband for his favorite Chinese deli meal sounds like the perfect treat for him. It's his favorite, and you two are focusing on saving money, so this was a nice thing to do for him.

      Do you ever make pickles of any sort with the cucumbers? 10 lbs is a lot of cucumbers! But they do sound refreshing. We're still a coupe of months away from getting cucumbers, here. I'll enjoy yours vicariously until I can harvest my own.

      The falafel was delicious. I found a recipe online for soybean patties that used cumin, green onions, soy sauce, flour and garlic. I added ground sesame seeds to this, and they tasted just like falafel that I've had before. I do think they're better without the added almonds and coconut, though, as only soybeans. I've done them both ways. The cumin is the flavor in falafel that I enjoy. And while you can bake falafel, I like them much better when shallow-fried in oil. These were so good, the first time I made some with soybeans, I ate all of them, myself!

      With traditional falafel, I know recipes online always say chickpeas or fava beans are the usual beans for making them. But we had friends from Egypt who made them with lentils. So my guess is which beans are used is secondary to the seasonings used.

      Have a great weekend, YHF!

    2. I have never tried making pickles. We usually buy sweet pickles, hardly dill or other types. Since it is garden fresh, I think it will last a few weeks in the refrigerator. We buy cucumbers all the time, so it is nice to have a garden that can provide a steady supply. I shouldn't get ahead of myself, since the bounty crop may just have been first time luck and planting it a second time may not yield as much.

      Have you tried making falafel with pinto beans?


    3. YHF, we've made refrigerator pickles several times, and had REALLY great results. They do last quite a while in the fridge, and you can adjust the taste to what you prefer. I like just about every type of pickle, but for the fridge have mostly gone with a bread-and-butter pickle flavoring because we were making pickle chips to get great flavor fast. They've never disappointed! Think you might enjoy trying some fridge pickles. :) My cousin also makes Asian pickles in the fridge, with good results. Take care, Sara

    4. Sara...Would Asian pickles be what we know as "namasu"? It is a quick sugar/vinegar salad that uses very thin slices of cucumbers.

      Thanks for the encouragement:) I guess pickles is something I think of as store bought, in the jar. I guess growing a lot of cucumbers may lead to learning how to pickle. Never had that problem before. Cucumbers cost $1.49 lb at the market, so pickling would have been more expensive than store bought.


    5. Hi YHF,
      I'll tell you what I say to my kids when they're nervous about attempting to make something -- practically everything we buy was once made in someone's kitchen, garage, basement or shed. Making pickles is one of those things. I had never made pickles before about 15 years ago and was very pleasantly surprised how easy they were on that first batch.
      I use cucumbers for dill pickles, in chunks and slices (chunks can fit into a jar better than whole pickles). I use an old recipe of my mom's that calls for salting the cucumbers overnight, then brining the next day (and putting into jars). My dill recipe calls for dill weed (I've used fresh and dried), garlic (I use powder) and Kosher salt, plus the cucumbers, so very simple in ingredients.

      Pickles and salsa are an area of the food budget that can quickly escalate overall expenditure at the store. And they're so cheap to make if you have a garden.

      For sweet pickles, I use a friend's recipe for bread and butter zucchini pickles, and I also do dill green beans.

      Another thing you can try, which will cost you nothing -- when you finish a store-bought jar of pickles, slice a fresh cucumber thin and put the slices into your used pickle juice. Keep in the fridge and in a few days you'll have "pickles".

      I've never tried pintos in falafel, I don't think. But I do think they'd be tasty. Pintos and cumin would be delicious, I'd think. Cooked pintos hold more moisture, so you'd need to adjust some of the ingredients, like use onion powder instead of green onions, and a little more flour. I'll look for a link to that recipe I have been using. I know I can find it again.

      Have a great day, YHF!

    6. YHF, I can't find the page where I originally got a recipe for okara falafel. I'm beginning to think I imagined it! Anyways, this is what I used:
      okara, flour, green onion (or onion powder), garlic powder, cumin, soy sauce, ground sesame seeds (ground a few tablespoons in my coffee grinder). The sesame seeds give it some fat, and when fried a really good texture. It doesn't need salt (soy sauce gives it all the sodium they need). I think you could sub pinto beans, and maybe use a bit more flour, if the mixture feels too wet. My mixture was on the dry side, until I used my hands to form into patties, then it comes together, well. I fried them in a shallow amount of oil, until golden on each side. Very delicious, even a day or two later.

    7. YHF, I'd have to ask my cousin. It might be similar, though the recipes I've seen for namasu have shrimp in them.

      I believe what she makes are a Korean pickled vegetable, though the only recipes I find are calling all varieties of that kim chi, and I thought she told me a different name a couple of years ago when we got to talking about it. What she described was a mixed vegetable thing, not the cabbage thing I think of when I think kim chi.

      Sara :)

    8. Sara, you're right, many namasu recipes have fishy ingredients like shrimp and seaweed. Kimchee can be made with cucumber and daikon, we prefer that kind better than nappa cabbage kimchee. It is very difficult to make good kimchee. I tried making it once long ago and know this is one dish I'm not going to try again. I've heard there are secrets to making good kimchee passed on to generations.

      Lili, thanks for the ingredients to soy sounds really tasty with cumin/ground sesame seeds. I agree that using pinto beans may make the mixture too wet. In our last batch of pinto bean patties, we added green onions (since we have a continuous garden supply) and that made the patties even wetter than usual, so I added some flour.

      Thanks for the encouragement Lili and Sara....I am easily discouraged in the kitchen. Recently I told my husband that I think the reason I can't bake cookies and cake (even gelatin can be hit or miss) is because I don't have the joy of cooking, or maybe even the joy of eating wonderful, tasty meals. I am keenly interested in cooking, however, as a means to lower our living expenses.

      I may try a first attempt at pickling, by throwing in some salt soaked fresh cucumbers in the jar of leftover pickle juice. Last time we threw away the juice from namasu, I knew I should have found another use that day. When we ate wonton last night, and my husband threw away the extra sauce, I knew there could have been another use, as the sauce for pan frying kang kong, swiss chard or other vegetables.


    9. Hello, again, YHF--

      I think that my cousin likes the cuke and radish kim chi, like you and your husband. Do you know of some sort of Asian sandwich that uses those? Seems like I remember that was why it came up (though sandwiches aren't generally a dish you think of in east Asian cuisine.

      I like Lili's idea for easy pickles. I do think you would probably be successful with making your own juice, too, though. I dislike when folks say something is "fool-proof", but we found, especially if we slice the cukes thin, that whatever we put in seemed to come out very tasty.

      There are lots of quick refrigerator pickle recipes on the internet, I see. I tried to find the one we've used, and I can't seem to track it down tonight, but they're all similar. It's just variations on vinegar, sometime water, salt, sugar, and seasonings. We've used what we had on hand, apple cider vinegar rather than white vinegar, and then things like onion, mustard/mustard seed, celery seed, dill, more or less sugar depending on what mood we were in.

      My husband also made pickled chiles from the garden with some buddies from work. They were shocked that you could make your own, but the results were a huge hit, even though he sort of fudged a recipe for it. :)

      Let us know if you make some! Take care-- Sara

    10. Hi Sara:)

      My husband once told me that his father loved kimchee sandwich. Simply dress bread slices with mayonnaise and add the kimchee (cabbage kind, although it is possible to slice other kimchee vegetables thinly to eat sandwich style). Thank you for reminding us about this forgotten family favorite. My husband is the kimchee eater in our home, story goes that his mom almost died giving birth to him because she ate too much kimchee during her pregnancy. It could have been all the kimchee sandwiches she ate...

      I agree to make quick pickles, it is best to slice the cucumber thinly. I also salt it for at least 15 minutes before pickling to remove excess liquid.

      I'm going to remember refrigerator pickles for sure because I don't know how to can. I like that there are so many different spices that can be used in pickling. The good thing too is cucumbers are not high carb, just the sugar is. I definitely would like to try out lower sugar pickles than the sweet kind. Making my own refrigerator pickles, I could lessen the dill which I don't quite like and add other ingredients.

      Thanks, Sara for your help and encouragement...have a great week!!


    11. YHF--

      Goodness, what a story about your husband's mom! Glad all turned out okay and your husband still likes his kim chi. (Have you ever noticed that some people love the foods their moms ate in pregnancy?)

      Last night it popped into my head what the sandwich I was thinking of is -- banh mi. It's Vietnamese, I think. that's the one my cousin loves.

      I like the taste of sweet pickles, but tend to make my fridge pickles less-sweet. Fresh cukes have a nice natural fresh/sweet flavor on their own, so I haven't found we needed much sweetener.

      As for dill, I've actually only used the herb, not the seed, in our pickles so far. The flavor's different, so you might like the other if you don't like one.

      I tend to lean toward the mustard/onion/celery seed seasonings, generally. Garlic is good, too, if you like it; but it's sort of a different flavor, to me.

      If you really like garlic, you could try some Mzhave Niori, which is Georgian (?) pickled garlic. Very easy, and although it generally is pickled whole, you can slice it and it will pickle faster. We found our recipe on the internet, we sliced ours, and it was delicious in five days for a big dinner party we gave. A huge hit. :)

      Your overage of cukes from your garden sounds really refreshing to me right now (heatwave here, and we don't have a garden this year). Hope you continue to find new ways to enjoy them. :) You have a great week, too! Sara :)

    12. Thank you Sara for some wonderful ideas. I'm taking notes. I think mustard/onion/celery seed flavoring in pickles sounds just about perfect.

      Sorry for the wrong info about what's in Kim chee sandwich. Yesterday, I mentioned to my husband that I wrote about his father's favorite, and he looked aghast when I mentioned mayonnaise. He said "who puts mayonnaise, you put butter." Must use butter, he kept repeating. Is there a big difference I asked. Of course he said. I don't know since it's been ages since I had one, but now I'm hungry for that sandwich. Might be good with soup.


  3. This weekend my daughter went camping.So I ate all the this and that's. Sunday was carne asada, Tue spiced chicken with
    green bean garbonzos and potatoes. Wed grilled chicken on the pool BBQ. Thursday Lili's Meat balls on the pool BBQ. Friday will be homemade pizza on the pool BBQ. My friend showed me how to work the BBQ,so my house stays cool. The pool BBQ has an oven and a stove top burner.I am so glad because
    it was hot this week 106 on Monday. I turned the air on for 1/2 of an hour after cooking dinner on Monday. I made your yogurt yesterday and it is wonderful. Such a money saver
    I will be making it all the time now.
    Thank You
    I am looking into the eggs at Smart and Final the one closes to me does not have them. I will check the one 10
    mins away.

    1. Hi Patti,
      That is wonderful that you have the poolside grill to use there. That will certainly keep you cool while cooking this summer and into fall. With a burner and oven, there's practically no reason to heat up your kitchen for dinners! That is really miserable to be standing over a stove in a hot kitchen. I'm so glad for you to have this respite from heat while cooking.

      Isn't homemade yogurt delicious! I vary how tangy it is by how long I leave it to incubate. Sometimes we make it tangier by allowing to sit longer (this also destroys more of the lactose, by leaving longer). But sometimes my family prefers a milder yogurt, so I incubate just for 3 hours. Enjoy it!

      I hope you can find a spectacular deal on eggs. The price went up a little at Cash & Carry in our area this week, but still only about 59 cents/dozen in the 15-dozen case.

      Have a great weekend, Patti!

  4. Your menus always sound great Lili. You have a real talent
    for creating yummy and varied foods.

  5. I had two of my big kids gone this week. We actually had leftovers one night for dinner (Thai Sesame Noodles and Chicken from America's Test kitchen & grilled zucchini). There has been no lack leftover choices for lunch for the rest of us, either. It's been a weird week in that regard. Melissa

    1. Hi Melissa,
      Yum, those Thai sesame noodles sound delicious!
      Isn't it funny how unbalanced meal prep becomes when one or two family members either isn't eating as much or is gone for a few days? A week ago, my son was sick and hardly ate for 5 days. Our fridge had so many leftovers every day. I was needing to come up with ways to use them all. Then when everything returns to normal, you can't keep up with the appetites.

      I hope your kids had a great time, wherever they went for the week!

      Have a great weekend, Melissa!

  6. I find it very satisfying to use up the last little bit of things or to use things before they go bad. I'm know you do to, so this was a fun week for you to be creative with what you found.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I'm completely with you on that. The satisfaction turns it into a game, and gets me thinking of ways to use those oddball items. I'm working on pickle juice these days, as we seem to be finishing off all of the pickles from last year, at the same time.

      Have a great weekend, live and learn!

  7. Those berries are beautiful, Lili.

    Like you, I continue to use up pits and pieces to save money. I used up two separate things of pasta sauce for Friday night dinner. I used up half of an onion that was left from something else in our squash casserole yesterday. And I used up the last of a container of cheese leftover from tacos in it as well. It's better to do this than let those things go to waste.

    1. Hi Belinda,
      It's a fun challenge, isn't it? To find ways to use everything up. Your squash casserole sound like it was yummy, and very thrifty, using those odds and ends!

      Have a great day, Belinda!


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