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Friday, February 17, 2017

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for Valentine's Week

  • pumpkin, chicken and potato soup (this was very good, so good there were no leftovers to freeze for Wednesday)
  • cheese and avocado quesadillas
  • cookies
husband cooks
  • brown rice
  • marinara sauce
  • cheese quesadillas
  • carrot sticks
  • pot roasted beef
  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • olives and pickles
  • sparkling cider
  • cookies
  • quick beef and veggie stew made with the leftovers from Sunday dinner, plus some celery and canned peas
  • fresh-baked whole wheat bread
  • homemade cheese pizza
  • canned green beans
  • carrot sticks and bleu cheese dressing for dip
  • canned pineapple chunks
  • cookies
  • leftover cheese pizza
  • slaw made from green and red cabbage and celery, in a dressing of marked down bleu cheese salad dressing, blended with mayonnaise and chive blossom vinegar
  • sweet potato casserole topped with mini-marshmallows (I'm not entirely sure if this was a side dish or dessert -- yummy either way!)
  • turkey, brown rice, celery, and cream of mushroom soup casserole (I used the turkey legs that I had frozen right after Thanksgiving)
  • canned green beans
  • leftover sweet potato casserole
  • pumpkin cake
We rearranged our weekend plans, as my son's fiancee wasn't feeling well on Saturday. As a result, we had our celebratory dinner on Sunday. I had been thinking that I would bring something in for dinner, maybe take-out pizza and bagged salad (so I could work on a writing and advertising project which was due).  However, every time I opened the refrigerator, I saw an 11-pound hunk of beef that needed dividing into freezer portions.  This inspired me to make a simple pot roast, with potatoes and carrots. I saved us about $15 on the take-out, and was still able to pull together the dinner, although a little late. I'm glad that I made the changes that I did, as the beef was very appreciated by all.

I am steadily using up my supplies in pantry, fridge and freezer.  The canned goods have been extreme time-savers for me this winter. Looking at last night's dinner, I used a canned item in 4 different dishes. I am looking forward to the day when I can see everything in the freezer and pantry, without having to rummage around.

What was on your menu this past week? Do you typically have Valentine's dinner at home, or is this an eating out occasion for you? Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. Your dinners look wonderful as always. So creative!

    On Sunday, we were going to have leftover beef barley soup but then we invited an elderly lady from our church for dinner and MIL. They know each other so we thought they would like that. I changed my meal to be pressure cooker pork, a box of scalloped potatoes and home grown green beans that we had in the freezer.
    Monday-pork tacos
    Wed. honey garlic chicken and cauliflower and a baked potato for me with broccoli (not enough of each veggie for the two of us)
    Thurs. leftover honey garlic chicken and baked potato
    Tonight--as always not sure.

    I have been diligent in trying to use up those little bags of veggies in the freezer that can't feed a crowd or that small piece of meat that is good for two. The only groceries I needed were milk and nothing else for this week.

    I made a 9 x 13 pan of lasagna this week and put it in the freezer for a meal in the future when we have the whole family home. Looks like that will be this Sunday as the kids are coming home and MIL will be there. No work for me other than some garlic rounds. Easy.

    I've been suffering with heartburn a lot lately. Maybe reflux but I just can't eat much without the acid-like feel. I just don't know what to do.


    1. Hi Alice,
      You should see your doctor about the heartburn, and sooner rather than later. My FIL went through a long stretch where he couldn't eat much more than a plate of fruit at a time. He seems to be better, now, but it was scary to watch him get thinner and thinner. It may just be something easy to address, and you wouldn't want to have to suffer longer than is necessary. Make yourself a priority right now. I'll keep you in my prayers.

      That was really sweet of you and your husband to have his mother over and another older woman. I'm sure both women enjoyed the time in a small group.
      Have a restful and enjoyable weekend, Alice!

    2. Thanks, Lili, for the "push". I made an appt. and just returned. My cough might be the result of reflux. This is my 2nd office visit since Jan. I'm being put on three medicines to see if we can make this go away. My husband has been pushing me for a while also and now we wait and see.


    3. Glad you went to the doctor Alice and are getting help with your reflux.

    4. Alice, I second live and learn's sentiment, that I'm glad you went to the doctor. I hate to think that you may suffer, needlessly, by not making yourself a priority. I'll keep praying for you. have a nice weekend!

    5. Glad you went to the dr.!
      Since you asked, and I read your comment, I can tell you reflux is nothing to put off. My husband has suffered for years, and it is difficult. There are some steps that help, eat only very small meals, nothing greasy, or spicy. No chocolate, or caffeine. Cut out excess carbs, bread, pasta, etc. Raise the head of your bed up on bricks or blocks, not just your pillows. No eating at least three hours before bed. Hope some of this might help you, blessings!

  2. We do Valentine's Dinner at home with the kids on the day. Buying our beef by the side, we have a limited number of steaks which means we might eat steak two or three times in a year, tops. This year, we had some of the t-bones for Valentine's, along with baked potatoes, green salad with homemade Ranch, crispy onions, and lemon bars for dessert. Today, hubby and I have errands to run in OKC, so will eat out for our lunch. I'm getting new hiking boots and he's getting new dress shoes--our agreed upon Valentine's "gifts" as they are both needs at this point.

    Your menu for the weeks sounds delicious, as always!

    1. Hi Cat,
      Your Valentine's dinner sounds very nice. That's a wonderful idea to save the steaks for special meals in the year. I bet you enjoyed them. I love the idea of going out to buy needed shoes, together, as your gifts. Even if they are technically "needs", there will be that moment of choosing them and wearing them for the first time that will feel especially indulgent. At least that's the way it works for me. Have a fun day with your hubby, Cat!

  3. Sounds yummy, Lili...! For Valentine's Day i made a lasanga, with a homemade sauce using paste I cooked down from garden tomatoes in my crockpot and froze last fall and to which I added frozen pumpkin puree from garden pumpkins. I used crumble bulk-purchased tofu (mixed with herbs and spices) instead of ricotta cheese, plus I tossed in a bunch of chopped frozen garden greens as a substitute for spinach. Hearty, healthy, satisfying, but oh so cheap....!

    1. Hi Patience,
      Your Valentine's dinner sounds delicious! I use mashed tofu in lasagna, too. I sometimes mix it half and half with cottage cheese. It's drier but I like it better than all of the dairy. Wow, with your abundant garden produce, your lasagna would be super inexpensive, as well as packed with veggies.
      Have a lovely weekend, Patience!

  4. I took your idea of the heart pancakes and made French toast instead. I made that Sunday morning.

    I had hoped to get the French toast all made the day before, but we ended up getting our 12 passenger van (with 8 of our 10 family members) stuck in the snow on a remote country road on Saturday evening. We had a friend come rescue us. We got home about 7:30 that night & threw together sandwiches for dinner & went to bed. Exhausting.

    My kids were thrilled with the French toast, though. Even the littlest guy thought it was great! I filled the hearts with some of my strawberry freezer jam.

    For Valentine's Day, I made Beef Burgandy with some of our beef from the freezer. My niece & her baby joined us, so it was a nice evening.

    I'm glad you had a nice engagement dinner, Lili. Seems the sickness is going around. It's finally hit our house. Yuck. Melissa

    1. Hi Melissa,
      What an ordeal that you went through with your van! I can only imagine how trying that was, and especially with a van load of children. The funny thing about these incidents is the kids often remember them as "adventures". I'm glad you all got home safely. Who cares if dinner was sandwiches, right? I hope the next day was a restful one, so you recuperated.
      Your Valentine's dinner sounds very nice. I haven't made Beef Burgundy in many years. It's so delicious; maybe I'll do that with some of the beef that I bought.

      Have a wonderful weekend, Melissa!

  5. Your meals always sound so good! Glad you got to celebrate. A roast is wonderful and a wonderful luxury.
    We had turkey,mashed potatoes,corn and cranberry.
    Stuffed bell peppers and cupcakes.
    Shrimp with shallots and lemon over mashed potatoes.
    Chicken soup.
    Breakfast for dinner again.
    I hope you have a great weekend.

    1. Hi Patti,
      You are so right about what a luxury a beef roast is! This was the first one that we've had in about 4 years. That's about when the price of beef skyrocketed and all we bought was ground beef, for the longest time. The beef that I bought was 11 & 1/2 lbs. So I have another 4 hunks of it in the freezer, to use in the future.
      Your meals all sound delicious, especially the shrimp and the stuffed peppers. My family is not wild about stuffed peppers, so I don't make them very often, but I love them. Every once in a while, I sneak them into the menu, despite what everyone else thinks.
      Have a lovely weekend, Patti.

  6. Good idea to make a stew from leftover pot roast, potatoes and veggies. Your cake looks so delicious. Was it from scratch? A box mix cake would not look as dense and yummy. This past weekend, I made baby cake pops with the grand kids, and because I am not a baker and not familiar with the small appliance, I used a box mix to make the job doable. It was a flop, too light in texture. I now understand why the recipes included were from scratch. I am determined to try again one day, this time following one of the recipes suggested, now that I'm more familiar with the appliance.

    Yesterday, Friday, we went out on a Walgreens run because I had a few incentives. Not on my list was a clearance offer on a $4.99 frozen turkey TV dinner for $1.49, so I bought two with the idea of having it for lunch when we returned home, so we wouldn't be tempted to eat out. The purchase helped me earn $5 back in Balance Reward points so lunch was sort of free. When we got home after several stops, the TV dinners were still frozen, so we split a dinner and saved the other one for another meal. We had our usual garden vegetables to eat as side dishes.

    Other meals were leftovers from the grandkid's visit, and there was enough pork and collard greens to freeze for two future meals. We had to use up some leftover block of cheddar cheese and an opened flour tortillas package, so made ourselves some bean burritos from near expiration cans of refried beans. Froze a few extras for future meals. With some leftover spaghetti noodles, and olives and pepperoni from our pizza making when the grandkids were here, we added shredded garden kale and used up some very dated Wishbone olive oil basil dressing in the fridge. So this week was pretty scrappy eating, but very cheap.

    Have a pleasant, restful weekend!!


    1. Hi YHF,
      Yes, the cake was a simple snack cake. I used a basic muffin recipe, adding pumpkin as some of the liquid, and a little less milk. I made it not overly sweet, as it had that canned icing on top. So, the boxed cake mixes don't work so well with cake pops. That's good to know. I've never made cake pops, so I don't know exactly how they're done. My daughter asked once at Starbucks, and the barista told her that they were cakes crumbs mashed together with frosting, then dipped in melted chocolate or melting wafers. Is this what your appliance makes? This daughter used to love cake pops. They'd be fun to do, if I could make them without a special appliance. If yours are made like what was described to my daughter, then you're in luck with the scratch cake, as if the cake doesn't turn out perfectly, it won't matter, as the frosting will hold the crumbs together. Good luck with this. It sounds like a fun project.

      I think the tv dinner idea was great for you, as you curbed the impulse to get take out, but still had the sense that someone else was doing the cooking. Good job! I love those sorts of weeks where you're just trying to eat up all of the leftover bits of things. It feels so productive.

      I hope that you're having a great weekend, YHF!

    2. Interesting that cake crumbs can be mashed together with frosting and shaped. The cake pop directions suggested freezing the baked pops for 15 minutes (after letting it cool) before dipping and decorating. I noticed that the bottom half of the pop, the side that the mix was poured, collapsed, while the side that was the lid was perfect. My smart grandson insisted that I let the appliance cool a bit before pouring the next batch. I told him that's not what the instructions said to do, since we are told to preheat before using. He asked, but can we try? He was right. It didn't collapse as much. So my conclusion was maybe box mixes rise too fast to be used in this kind of appliance. I copied your snack cake recipe from a past post, and will give it a try (fingers crossed). I'm thinking maybe a muffin recipe could work too.

      Today was another lunch save. We had a picnic in the car eating from our grocery haul: oranges (sale @ 59c/#) and a ready to eat rotisserie chicken ($4.98). We had plenty of chicken left for several more meals. We always keep paper plates, napkins, cups and cutlery in the car, as well as always a jug of iced water from home. I know, no class, but saves money.

      Any day that I have saved is a satisfying good day.


    3. YHF, your car picnic sounds lovely, actually. I think it depends on the likes of the people enjoying it. For me, I could enjoy that with a pleasant view, at the beach or overlooking a park. That's very smart to keep the plates, cups and cutlery in the car. No excuses, right?
      Have a wonderful day, YHF!

  7. That cake looks good, Lili. Your menus sound delicious too. I think the pot roast was a good idea and what a savings.

    We did not do Valentine's Day this year. Our menu changed this week at my daughter took over the cooking as I hurt my back last weekend, but we made it thru without getting take out, so all is good on the home front.

    Hope you have a terrific weekend. :)

    1. Hi Belinda,
      Oh no! How is your back feeling now? I hope that by now you are on the mend. How awful for you, though. I am so glad that Bailey is so capable and take care of things for you, like this. If you were out of work, due to your back issue, then you'd definitely not want to be getting takeout, so this is a double blessing to have your daughter step in and help.

      I said a prayer for you. Take good care of yourself, and I hope you can get back to all of your responsibilities very soon. have a lovely Sunday, Belinda!


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