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Friday, July 8, 2016

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for a summer holiday week

Oven frittata


Basil and red pepper frittata
Garlic toast
Blackberry-rhubarb pie


BBQ pork on buns
Roasted cauliflower
Blackberry-rhubarb pie


Kale and cheddar quiche
Brown rice


Hot dogs, buns
Macaroni salad
Creamy rhubarb jello
Deviled eggs


Macaroni salad topped with egg salad
Creamy rhubarb jello
Mexican fried rice


Bean burger patties, topped with quickie marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese
French bread
Green salad from the garden
Cream puffs, filled with raspberries, whipped cream and raspberry sauce *really good*


Leftover bean burger patties, topped with marinara and mozzarella
Corn souffle
French bread

A week ago, Thursday, I stopped at the produce stand and picked up a load of produce, including 2 whole watermelons, a couple of cantaloupe, celery, and red sweet peppers. The meals this past week included all of this bounty.

Oven frittatas are a fall-back item for us, as I can quickly get one put together, then into the oven for a decent main dish, with minimal work. The frittata from this week included some of the sweet red pepper, and basil leaves from our garden. It was yummy!

The creamy rhubarb jello, which was made for the 4th celebration, is a puree of sweetened rhubarb sauce, cream cheese and gelatin. It's a favorite way to eat rhubarb, in our house.

Mexican fried rice? This was like rice and beans, but with scrambled eggs added in. It was leftover from weekend lunches.

And now, we're back to "normal" summer meals. The produce stand goodies are almost gone, and I'm still working through the freezer and pantry surpluses. I'm doing well with the grocery budget for July, so far. We're 1 week into the month and I've only spent $1 (graham crackers for Monday).

How did your meals go this past week? Did you find that you had a lot of leftovers from the 4th of July, or Canada Day? Anyone using their watermelon rinds to make pickles this summer?

Have a great weekend!


  1. Our meals this week were:
    Sunday: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, carrots
    Monday: At friends on the lake for a picnic. Hamburgers, salads, watermelon, cake and ice cream
    Tuesday: Roasted chicken and leftovers from Sunday
    Wednesday: Frozen pizza that the kids brought home from work a while ago. With extra spaghetti sauce and mozzerella.
    Thursday: I made a casserole of chicken, spinach, cream cheese, milk, cream of chicken soup, one hot pepper, and diced up tortillas. I just found these leftovers in the fridge so I threw them together in a casserole. It was quite good.

    Most of these meals had a fruit with them like cantaloupe, grapes, mango, peach, plum and the last of the watermelon.

    The fridge is empty so I need to get a few things this weekend.


    1. Hi Alice,
      your meals sound tasty and very economical. The casserole from last night must have been very good. I love those thrown together casseroles.

      Have a great weekend, Alice!

  2. We had lots of leftovers from our grandkids sleepover this past weekend, homemade chicken soup with homemade noodles, pork ribs, and we still have watermelon to finish up. Some meals I just ate "my foods" instead, which are plain bean patty and kangkong. I need to consume enough fiber, so these foods are better for my digestion and prediabetes. Last night, we had nishime (Japanese root stew) again since I am having to use up near expiring or slightly expired canned goods. I noticed a quality difference with the two weeks past dated can of bamboo shoots. It was limp and darker. I am still here so I guess it wasn't bad. I was sure to show this to my husband because he always claims those dates don't mean anything since canned foods will last til WWIII. For dessert this week, we had banana pudding from a near expiring box mix, chocolate ice cream leftover from when the kids were here, and coconut or coffee gelatins. The coconut gelatin was even more delicious with sweetened coconut flakes added. I still have a few more items from our pantry that need using up so a hamburger helper (freebie), sweetened black beans, and more pudding are next on our menu.

    Our home project this week was cutting the length of our existing kitchen island table since I disliked it since the day my dad built it 30 years ago. To make room around the island table, we modified some old hand me down chairs so now the seat can slide under the table when not in use (we removed the arms from the chairs, patched and spray painted.) Cost was nothing out of pocket since we had the supplies and tools. This is what I call the diderot effect, one thing leads to another. I want to chalk paint our kitchen cabinet doors a particular green color to echo our garage hall green tiles. It will be a drastic change but the kitchen, as is, is too boring, too much neutral colors.

    Have a wonderful weekend!!


    1. Hi YHF,
      be super careful about the canned goods near expiry or just past. Maybe Sara will chime in, here, but she's had some bad experiences, lately with expired canned goods. It's made me more cautious.
      Oh, yum, I love banana pudding! I may try making a coconut gelatin, now that you've mentioned it. It sounds so refreshing.

      I love the sound of your kitchen project, so satisfying for so little cost!

      Have a great weekend, YHF!

    2. Thanks for the warning, hope it wasn't as bad as I'm thinking. I remember using a can of expired water chestnuts, and it ruined the dish, taste wise. I didn't get sick that time too, but it makes you wonder what happens chemically inside the cans, and how the manufacturer knows the exact date that their product will no longer be as good. I find post dated quality worst for canned products than packaged, so there may be some leaching from the metal.

      I was reading up on some nutrition facts about watermelon rinds. Seems it has some health benefits for vascular health, so I think I will save the rind for the other half of the watermelon. I read that it can even be added in savory dishes, so I may try that too.


    3. YHF, my son's girlfriend told us that the white part of the rind is used in Chinese cooking. Her dad steams it then adds to edamame, in a quick stir fry. I was thinking of using some, this weekend in a stir-fry, as one of the vegetables. It's flavor is mild. And I'd think it would take up soy sauce, garlic and ginger quite well. And if you have a juicer, you can juice the white part.

    4. I was thinking of making gelatin with the rind too.

      Interesting that her dad steamed the rind first, then added in stir fry. It may taste like long squash, which absorbs flavors well and can be added to soups. Now I'm motivated to keep our rinds for sure. Have you tried freezing the rinds? I'm thinking maybe I should steam then freeze, so it can keep for another week.

      Thank you, Lili, for all your advice and help. Can't wait for our granddaughter to join us next week, and have her try watermelon rinds. She will then go back home to tell her mom (our daughter). That seems to be the flow of information that's best, instead of lecturing lol


    5. Yes, steam or blanch them first. I just put them all in plastic bags in the fridge, and try to get to them in order that I put them there. They seem to keep for about 5 days, in good shape.
      Now I'm off to start a batch of pickles!

    6. We added steamed watermelon rinds to a variety of flavors, and ir absorbed the flavors well and added visually. I sliced the rind thinly and mixed it in with kimchee, then with our pickled cucumber (namasu) that was several days old, and to saute swiss chard. We froze the remaining steamed rind and will add to soups next time. My husband was very skeptical at first but said he doesn't mind eating the rind and now he feels less wasteful buying watermelon. I'm especially pleased because like most fruits, the portion under the skin is the most nutritious. Many thanks, Lili!!


  3. tell me more about your watermelon pickles. I've never thought about making them but I'd be interesting in what they are like.

    1. Hi Ruthie,
      here's the post on how I make watermelon pickles:

      I use cloves and cinnamon in a sweet vinegar brine. If you like sweet pickles, you may like these. They've been a hit, here, with our family, as well as with guests on several occasions.

      Have a great weekend, Ruthie!

  4. Lili, I was wondering if I could tap your shoulder on another topic: affordable, and preferably natural (non chemical) household cleaners. I've pretty much exhausted my stockpile of household cleaners and now have a large, handled, oval bucket where I store my supplies, and cart it around as I need it. I have been using a Whole foods citrus vinegar all purpose spray, Comet (but am curious about your experience with just baking soda), Castille soap, Murphy's oil soap, lemon oil, spray Pledge, windex (will move to homemade when this is empty), generic mold killer aka tilex type spray, Reslove carpet spot cleaner. I have wood floors except for 3 sets of stairs all of which have vinyl tread covers on them and the bedrooms and the cellar "den." Thoughts? TIA, Carol in CT

    1. Hi Carol,
      This is what I use:

      Vinyl and ceramic tile flooring--orange-clove infused vinegar (orange peels and a few whole cloves, infused in white vinegar 6 weeks, strained and stored in a jar in cupboard), mixed half and half with water. Put in spray bottle -- spray floors, then mop up.

      Stone countertops -- liquid dish soap and water (never vinegar on natural stone). Same with kitchen cabinets and refrigerator (inside and out) and fronts of all appliances.

      Oven--self-cleaning for interior deep-cleaning.

      Stovetop -- liquid dish soap/water and a scrubby pad. It's a glossy black surface, so I wipe it dry, instead of air drying.

      Kitchen and bathroom sinks -- baking soda (Dollar Tree, online in case, 59 cents/box). About once every 4-6 weeks -- fill sink 1 inch with water, and add 2 capfuls of bleach. I also lay a couple of white dish cloths in the sink at the same time, to kill 2 birds with one stone (brighten up the dish cloths, while bleaching sink). Mid-week, I pour about a capful of hydrogen peroxide around the drains in the bathroom sinks. It disinfects and mildly bleaches stains around the drain.

      Carpet stains, I use hydrogen peroxide on white carpeting (test in an inconspicuous spot, first, to make sure it won't over-lighten your carpet).

      Stand alone bathtub, I use a Dollar Tree bathtub/soap scum spray, combined with a textured scrubby pad.

      Showers --bleach spray from Dollar Tree or Target (Target Up and Up brand of bleach bathroom spray works better than Dollar Tree). Mildew stained grout lines -- qtip dipped in bleach.

      Shower/tub combo -- baking soda on tub surface, bleach spray on the tile walls and grout.

      Toilets -- bleach spray for bathrooms

      Wood flooring in the hall, family room and dining room -- sweep and dust mop those. It's a sealed wood, so if anything spills on them, I just wipe up with warm water and a bit of dish soap.

      Glass --My daughter alternates between homemade windex and vinegar/water for windows and mirrors.

      Wood furniture I use lemon oil on a cloth about once every 3 months. I've been looking into using plain olive oil when I run out of lemon oil.

      Weekly dusting -- daughter uses a microfiber dusting wand (Dollar Tree). We put it into a pillowcase and throw it in the wash every other week. Half way through dusting the house, she uses a handheld vacuum to clean the dusting wand.

    2. (pt. 2)
      So, this is what's in my cleaning cabinet --

      Homemade orange-clove infused vinegar/water
      Homemade windex
      Liquid dish soap and water
      Hydrogen peroxide
      Chlorine bleach
      Lemon Oil
      Up and Up bleach bathroom cleaner spray (or Dollar Tree version)
      Dollar Tree soap scum spray (LA's Totally Awesome Bang shower cleaner)
      Baking soda
      Microfiber dusting wand

      The worst of the bunch is the soap scum cleaner. It is really strong. It's effective, but hard for breathing. I may just mix ammonia and water in a bottle, when this one is out.

      I prefer baking soda for scrubbing sinks, over products like Comet, because it's gentler (won't abrade the finish as quickly), it's non-toxic (I don't have to worry about totally rinsing the sinks afterwards) and it's less expensive. Plus it works. I use baking soda on pots that need scrubbing out, too, like the stock pot I use for heating milk when making yogurt.

      Using a microfiber dusting wand eliminates the need for a dusting spray like Pledge. If there's a smudge on furniture, then a barely damp piece of flannel is about all I need. This wand came from Dollar Tree, and is about 9 months old, still doing great.

      Most places that I think many folks use an all-purpose spray, liquid dish soap and warm water works just as well. When I give the fridge a deep cleaning, that's all I use, same with fronts of appliances.

      I don't like using bleach, but mold is a big issue where I live. And when my one daughter came down with something like Norovirus this last winter, I did use bleach and water for disinfecting surfaces, to keep anyone else from contracting it. The CDC recommended bleach/water for norovirus. I don't buy products like Lysol or Febreeze or air fresheners. I use homemade lavender spray for an air freshener, other wise I just open windows.

      Hope there's something useful in this.

    3. Lili, thanks for the thorough reply. : )

  5. We haven't had any watermelon yet. I'm waiting until the local watermelon is ripe. Should be any day now. Actually it comes from about 3-4 hours away along the coast, but is usually picked in the morning and sold here in the afternoon. The watermelon right here won't be ripe for at least another month.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I don' think I've ever had a local and freshly-picked watermelon. How is it? Is there anything in particular that stands out to you about a fresh one? Our season would be about a month behind yours, so that would put watermelon into early September. I'll have to check the produce stand at that time to see where the watermelons are coming from.

  6. Watermelon is like most other things that are freshly picked--sweeter than you can get in the store. Texture and juiciness are the same.


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