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Friday, October 21, 2016

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for mid-October (the humble bean burger starts the week)

I spent about 3 hours in the kitchen making enough bean burger patties to get us through 4 suppers and a couple of lunches. I had to dedicate my entire afternoon to this endeavor. But the payoff was that I didn't have much preparation for suppers for several evenings in a row.
  • bean burger patties, topped with tomato slices and 1000 Island dressing (made from homemade green tomato sweet relish, 3 ketchup packets, mayo and chive blossom vinegar)
  • whole wheat penne pasta with butter
  • baked acorn squash, seasoned with brown sugar, cinnamon and butter
I volunteered at a fund-rasier today and I am very glad to have dinner practically ready for plates. I'm tired.
  • leftover bean burger patties, topped with tomato slices and leftover 1000 Island dressing
  • whole wheat rotini pasta
  • baked acorn squash
  • leftover bean burger patties, topped with tomato slices and leftover 1000 Island dressing
  • oven fries, seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and chipotle pepper
  • leftover acorn squash
  • cucumber salad in dressing of last of Ranch dressing mixed with oil and vinegar
In the comments on last week's Cheap & Cheerful post, Brandy from The Prudent Homemaker mentioned preparing grape leaves as a side, recently. Grape leaves are a super nutritious leafy green that gets very little recognition. Her comment inspired me to go out and see if I could find enough tender leaves for making a batch of stuffed grape leaves. I have everything I need, here. I think these will be tasty with the last of the bean burger patties.
  • leftover bean burger patties, again served with tomato and 1000 Island
  • stuffed grape leaves (leaves blanched in microwave before stuffing with rice, raisins, garlic, onion, almonds, cumin, oregano, olive oil, salt and lemon juice. After rolling up, steamed in the oven with lemon juice, water and salt, dish covered in foil)
  • freshly baked French bread (yep, it was baking day. I did sandwich bread and French loaves)
  • curried peanut coleslaw, with a zip of curry and chutney (I left out the frozen peas)
the second "cooking big" entree -- roast pork loin

Today was my big cooking day for the week. I spent about 5 hours in the kitchen, but was able to make-ahead quite a lot, to get me through the next 3 or 4 days.
  • herb and garlic-crusted pork loin
  • herb and garlic roasted potato wedges
  • oven-roasted carrots and onions
  • leftover cole slaw
  • leftover stuffed grape leaves
  • chunky applesauce
I've got some lingering cooked squash and thawed pumpkin puree in the fridge. I'll use both to make a batch of pumpkin muffins. I can do those in the morning, and have them ready and waiting at dinner time, to round out a meal of leftovers.
  • leftover pork loin, I poured some minced herbs in water over the slices, before reheating
  • leftover carrots and onions
  • leftover applesauce
  • canned green beans
  • pumpkin and squash muffins
This is the last night of the pork loin. I'm thinking to cube it and combine with either rice or noodles, along with more of the herb mixture. I'll need a veggie or two to go with this. I'll see what's still in the garden, when the rain lets up.

  • brown rice with minced herbs from earlier in the week, diced roast pork, and olive oil
  • French bread slices, spread with minced herb-butter, and toasted in oven
  • fresh tomato slices
  • kale and onions sauteed in bacon fat

I feel like I am getting most of my dinner inspiration from all of you, these days. So I send you all a big thank you! I have some frozen leftovers I can use over the weekend, then I have to come up with something else. Any ideas? Ha ha! I'm getting lazy. I don't want to even do my own menu planning.

I hope you all had a great week, and have wonderful plans for the weekend. Wishing you well!


  1. We had a lot of instant pot pressure cooker meals this week.

    Sunday we had hamburgers on the grill with homemade buns. For the rest of the week, I forget the order but we had a fail with ravioli so it was instant pot lentils and chicken. One day was pork and onions with homemade rice a roni. Another day was chicken with whatever else was leftover in the fridge. Last night was turkey thighs with gravy and soup made out of all leftovers. Quite a good week and easy since mostly everything was made within an hour using that wonderful pressure cooker. We also made homemade yogurt in the instant pot which was by far the best homemade yogurt ever. Very creamy and not sour. One of those days I also had a baked potato but I don't know what day anymore.

    Tonight, Friday is always up in the air. I never know what Friday's meals will be.

    Lili, for that leftover pork, our favorite is chopping it up, sauteeing it with taco seasoning and eating them on fried corn tortillas. Not really fried, just warmed up in a skillet. I thicken the mixture with just a bit of flour so it's not sloppy. That is easy and a tasty use of leftover pork. A little goes a long way!


    1. Hi Alice,
      Your meals all sound so tasty. And I am so glad that you bought that instant pot. What a time-saver that has proven to be for you! And I'm so impressed that you can do yogurt in it, too!

      I'll keep that in mind for the roast pork leftovers. I always have corn tortillas in the fridge now. And that does sound very easy and fast.

      Have a great weekend, Alice!

    2. Alice, we sometimes do the same with leftover pork. It really DOES make more than you'd ever guess, though we usually do a little bean and cheese, too, to make it stretch even farther. Sara

  2. Good job saving yourself some time, and a whole lot of sanity, doing batch cooking, yet serving interesting sides that add variety and nutition.

    We've been eating the same old foods, I don't think I need to repeat lol. My husband craved Chinese meats, so we took out a dinner, and had home made frozen pizza and beer another. Today, I am going to try your peanut curry cole slaw, sounds delicious!! I think it might be one the grandkids should try. Thank you!!

    Have a good day and enjoy your weekend!!


    1. Hi YHF,
      Yum! take-out Chinese is one of my favorite restaurant meals. My son and his GF both have birthdays next month. Many years, we've done Chinese for his birthday. This year, we get to add his girlfriend's birthday to our list of celebrations. I'm not sure what we'll do, if we'll celebrate both, together, or on separate evenings. But Chinese does sound very appealing.

      Enjoy the peanut-curry coleslaw. It's one of my favorites.

      Have a great weekend, YHF!

  3. Have you published your BEAN PATTY recipe?
    I enjoy Garden Burgers but they are not frugal. I've tried a few meatless burger recipes and not found one I like.

    1. Hi frugal spinster,
      I don't think I've ever done a full post. I wasn't sure it would interest very many folks.
      Okay, so I found these basic instructions in one post:
      "bean burger patties, using 2 cups of mashed, cooked pintos, a cup of cooked barley (for chew), some chopped onions, chili powder, salt, 1 egg and a handful of bread crumbs from the freezer. (The bread crumbs were the pan scrapings from several batches of cornbread. I can scrape about 1 tablespoon to 1/8-cup of crumbs from each pan of scratch cornbread. Then save in a container in the freezer.) I fried the bean burgers in ham fat (stored in the freezer) combined with veg oil. Very good! I offered mustard and BBQ sauce to everyone for topping the patties."

      I do vary the seasonings, according to my mood, but I like lots of garlic, onion or onion powder, chili powder and herbs, salt and red pepper, for flavoring. The bread is usually 1 slice of homemade (dense) whole wheat, reduced to crumbs. I always use 1 egg as a binder. And if the mixture is too wet, I add a tablespoon or two of whole wheat flour. The texture is not chewy like Garden Burgers, but a softer texture. We enjoy them, and they do keep for several days in the fridge and are good reheated, or in the freezer for a couple of months.

      Have a great weekend, frugal spinster!

  4. Hi Lili -- my schedule is starting to ramp up on my end this Fall, so I've been researching options for making my own daily meal planning a little easier and more streamlined, while sticking to my low-cost scratch and mostly whole-food (without a lot of pricey, exotic ingredients) cooking style. As such, I've been compiling a list of potential recipes that could work for what's known as "Freezer Dump Meals". It's a bit of an unfortunate moniker for what essentially are meals that require minimal prep beyond chopping and measuring (no pre-cooking or sauteing required) -- with the meal ingredients getting 'dumped' into freezer bags for freezing, the contents of the bags then getting 'dumped' into one's crockpot on cooking day. With some pre-planning, they say one can assemble a large assortment of these meals quickly, assembly line style (chopping the onions, peppers, carrots, etc etc for all the various meals all at once, etc). I haven't tried it myself yet (I'm still compiling my personal list of recipes -- being as that my family is vegetarian and most of these meals do seem to feature meat I'll need to do some of my own modifying), but enthusiasts say you can compile a series of different, varied and tasty meals in the bags within an hour or so. Stacked in the freezer, these can be pulled out to let your crockpot do the work of cooking on busy days. Here are a few links that better explain the concept -- in any case, it seems like it could be a potentially efficient and time-saving method (while still low-cost and healthy) if well planned out and done correctly....!

    1. Hi Patience,
      I've seen that idea for the fridge, to use gallon size ziplocs with prepped ingredients for the crockpot for the week. This last week, I realized that I could have used the food processor to do all of the onions for the week, ahead of time, all at once. I'm going to try that this next week.

      I'll check out those links you gave me. They sound promising! Thank you very much!

      have a great weekend, Patience!

  5. I see you've been having tomatoes. Are those ones that are ripening from your garden?

    1. Hi live and learn,
      oh yes! I'm down to the last week or two of fresh tomatoes from our garden. But we have been really enjoying them. These were all picked a couple of weeks ago, though. That part of our garden is done for the year.

      Have a great weekend, live and learn!

  6. Bean burgers are time consuming aren't they? I do love them though as they are plant based and so much healthier for us. I like that you put thousand island on them. That is my daughter's favorite salad dressing/Big Mac sauce.

    How neat that you still have fresh tomatoes from your garden. My dad takes his last few green ones and wraps them in newspaper to try and extend them as far as he can into the winter. Some years he has made it into Jan/Feb.doing this.

    Lastly, I had no idea grape leaves were so healthy. Good to know. I see them all the time at Big Lots, but have never tried them. I'll have to do that sometime. :)

    I hope you all are doing well.

    1. Hi Belinda,
      Now that's something, to make the tomatoes keep until after the new year! I've managed to keep them, that way until late November before, but that's it. This year, we had so much rain that I had to pick them all early, and now it looks like they'll only last through this month. Still nice to have fresh tomatoes.

      I haven't been to Big Lots in a few years. I really need to check them out again. Thanks for the reminder!

      Thanks, Belinda. I'm still feeling run down. But hoping for better, soon.

      Have a great day!

  7. The grape leaves are interesting to me. I grew up on the other side of Michigan, where there is a large Greek population, and restaurants featured different Greek dishes with grape leaves. Your post reminded me that I liked them and I miss eating them. Hmmmm .... maybe I should learn to prepare them myself!

    1. Hi Kris,
      If you're using packaged grape leaves, stuffed grape leaves are pretty simple. Like making burritos. Prepare a filling, and roll up just like a burrito.

      I lived in Salt Lake City for a few years and we had a Greek population, there. I enjoyed the Greek festival that was organized by the Orthodox church, each fall. Great food and music. I don't know of anything similar n my area, now.

      Have a great day, Kris!


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