Friday Round Up-Speedy Dessert


A very quick Friday Round Up-

What’s On Sale?

Lots of items on sale this week including all things fish, cabbage and not just the plain green type, but Napa variety too which is great in stir frys. Anything related to Valentine’s Day and all things red are heavily discounted so think ahead to Christmas when red’s in style again.

Speedy Dessert

If you’re ever looking for a speedy discount I came up with this one. I used chocolate flavored almond milk but I think regular chocolate milk would work too.

Pour about two cups of chocolate milk into a saucepan and heat slowly. Take ¼ cup of cornstarch mix it with a little more milk and add to the saucepan and cook until it’s thickened. Taste test it because you’ll probably need to add some sweetener, whether it be some sugar, honey or agave nectar. Pour into pudding dishes and place in the fridge. To serve sprinkle on some chopped chocolate.


Get in Shape for Spring

I’ve featured Lindsay Nixon’s Happy Herbivore books on this site many times and I also follow her blog. She’s had lots of great tips on there, everything from choosing a pressure cooker to how to keep produce fresh longer. She also has a 100,000 steps exercise challenge that kicks off on Monday. You can win some books and get into shape too-


Have a money saving week.

The Three Stages of Homemade Yogurt


I’ve always been a fan of yogurt and not only eat it as a breakfast treat and dessert, but use it in things like breads and muffins. Good news is it’s easy to make. I have a Salton yogurt maker but I have heard that lots of people use a thermos with great results. Whatever your method here’s my basic recipe and tips I’ve found that increase the likelihood of a successful batch-

4 cups milk…I’ve tried it with all types, skim, 1% but have had the best results with whole milk

¼ cup dry milk powder

½ cup plain yogurt…once again the best type is made from whole milk

Make sure you turn on the yogurt maker before you begin making the yogurt because I’ve found the warmer it is when the mixture gets added the thicker the end product.

In a saucepan add the milk and milk powder and heat it. It’s best to babysit it. Stir it frequently so it doesn’t start to stick to the pan. Once you see bubbles starting to form around the edges of the liquid, remove it from the heat . You don’t want it to boil. Let it sit for about 15 minutes and test to make sure it’s cooled to about room temperature.

Slowly add the yogurt. A note about the yogurt. Don’t go with on a cheaper brand. Make sure it’s top of the line because it will have active cultures that are needed to make your batch of yogurt. Mix everything together and then pour into the yogurt maker.

Instructions with the machine say it takes from 4-8 hours but I’ve found about 10 hours is perfect.

Make sure to take out ½ cup of the yogurt for the next batch you make.

Once you have some homemade yogurt you can also make Greek style yogurt by draining it in a cheesecloth lined sieve over a bowl for about 24 hours. Keep the whey that separates because you can use it when you make bread.

Once you have Greek yogurt you can make frozen yogurt. Mix it with some frozen fruit put it in a baking pan and in the freezer and keep stirring it and putting it back in the freezer until it reaches the right consistency.


And while on the topic of yogurt if you don’t want to make your own yogurt one brand I stumbled upon when the store had a BOGO sale…what budget smart girl can pass on one of those, is Noosa. The tubs are bigger than most other brands too so I think you get more for your money.

If you want to give it a try, check out their Web site because they have a 55 cent coupon you can print out-

It’s Meatless Monday-Roasted Root Vegetable and Lentil Salad

 Salads don’t always have to be about lettuce and this one combines slow roasted root vegetables and lentils. I admit I’m a fan of any type of lentil and use them in just about any type of recipe. One thing I hate doing is cooking them. I grew tired of babysitting them while they simmered on the stove and then have them stick to the bottom of the pan and turn into lentil mash. One day I thought why not try cooking them in the oven like I do when I make rice. The amount for this recipe is actually more than you need but they freeze well, and yes, I’ll be using more of them in upcoming Meatless Monday recipes so have them on hand.


1 ½ cups brown lentils

Salt and pepper (for both the lentils and vegetables)

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon butter or margarine…whatever is your preference

4 large carrots, peeled and chopped

4 parsnips, peeled and chopped

4 golden beets, peeled and chopped


4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar



Pre-heat oven to 375. In a large baking pan add the carrots, parsnips and beets. Sprinkle with a good amount of both salt and pepper and then drizzle with oil. Using your hands, ‘massage’ the oil and seasonings into the vegetables. Put the pan in the oven and cook the root vegetables for about 20 minutes. What you’re looking for is a lightly golden, caramelized look which brings out their flavor and sweetness.

At the same time the vegetables are cooking you can cook the lentils.

First wash them and make sure there are no bits of gravel/stones lurking in them. Put them in a large baking dish that has a lid. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper, and also both the garlic and onion powders. Add the butter and then add enough water so the lentils are covered by at least an inch of it.

Place the dish in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes. Check often just to make sure the water isn’t drying out. When they’re cooked they should be soft but still remain their shape.

When both the vegetables and lentils are cooked remove the oven and let them stand for about five minutes.

To make the salad. In a large bowl add about 1 ½ cups of the cooked lentils and all the vegetables and mix together. There should be enough oil left on the vegetables to coat everything but if not you can add more.

Next add the rice vinegar (you can also use balsamic too) and mix everything together. Give a final taste test and add more salt and pepper or vinegar if you like.

You can top this with some feta cheese too and I like to serve it with some homemade pita bread.

Serves 4.


Worn Just Once…yes, really

I know most of us don’t think spring is on its way because it’s so cold, but the calendar says it is and that means budget smart girls everywhere are planning weddings. For anyone who’s ever been a bride or a parent of a bride to be, the cost of some items might make you say, that’s how much? Before you know the budget’s gone by the wayside and things are spiraling out of control.

So with that in mind I checked out some sites that I hope will help you find some bargains.

And if you’ve already been the bride and want to make some money selling your gown or other wedding items most of these sites allow you to do just that. This time around you can say this dress was worn just once and truly mean it-


And don’t forget to check out Etsy who have lots of vendors selling wedding related items-


It’s Meatless Monday-The Tater Tot Casserole Goes Veggie


One thing I love to do is take a meat centric recipe and convert it to a vegetarian one. Remember the classic tater tot casserole, ground meat topped with everyone’s favorite spud?

This is really easy to put together and I used Yves Veggie Cuisine, veggie grounds. This product has quickly become one of my favorite imitation ground beef products. A little goes a long way, it’s reasonably priced, and it doesn’t have an overwhelming flavor that’s impossible to mask in recipes.


1 12 ounce package of Yves Veggie Ground

About half a 16 ounce package of tater tots

½ cup sliced mushrooms

½ cup frozen green beans

2 carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally

2 cups ready-made stock

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Good pinch of both salt and pepper



Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and spray a medium size casserole dish with non-stick spray.

In a skillet over medium high heat, heat about a tablespoon of oil and add the mushrooms and carrots and cook for about two minutes. Add the green beans and veggie grounds and mix together.

Next add the salt, pepper and both the onion and garlic powders and cook for two minutes.

Next add the stock and cook for about five minutes or until some of it has reduced down.

Turn off the heat and pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.

Top with the frozen tater tots covering most of the mixture but leaving some gaps so the potatoes have room to expand when they defrost.

Place in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked and slightly golden brown.

Serve immediately.

Makes four generous servings.

Friday Round Up-Bargain Priced Kitchen Items


A quick Friday round up of things I found on the Web this week-

Tips on equipping your kitchen with bargain priced items-


Anyone else love the idea of breakfast waiting for you?


I love these homemade baking mixes…great to have on hand-


I dry tomatoes in my dehydrator but do occasionally buy this brand and here’s a link to a coupon. Try using them in a grilled cheese sandwich-

Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes


Happy Valentine’s Day to all.


Getting Ready to Garden


Winter can be a frustrating time for us avid gardeners. This year I’m determined not to let cold weather (and fingers crossed, another late spring), hinder my attempts to get a vegetable garden planted.

Many years ago I was freelancing for a local magazine and got assigned the topic of what gardeners can do while they can’t get outside. My editor arranged for me to meet with the head designer at a very upscale gardening store. I went in there thinking I’d come out with lots of tips I could pass along to readers when in fact I came away with just one. Pick up some gardening books and use them to plan ahead. I mumbled all the way back to my car thinking that wasn’t really good advice but recently it’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

Pull out your gardening books or head to the library, and start planning what you want to do this spring and summer. It saves time and money and yes, you can dream big too.

And one tip I’ve learned over the last year, don’t leave it to the last minute to buy your gardening supplies, like seeds and seed starting materials. I’ve done that and everything was sold out.

The other day when I was at the DIY store all the seed packages were 30% off so I thought I’d get a head start and at least decide what I what to grow. I’ve decided to go adventurous with things like melon and parsnips which I’ve been warned are one of the hardest to germinate but my motto’s go for it.

My research has led me to some sites I thought I’d share with you-


This site gives you month by month tips on what chores need tackling-

A basic garden planting guide-


Thinking of a makeover

I just found this and will definitely be signing up for the class. Best thing is it’s free!

And these two sites have tips for starting seeds indoors which is must for many of them, and essential if like me you live in an area with a short growing season-

Whenever I have time I tune into Hallmark’s Home and Family show and one of my favorite segments is when Shirley Bovshow, also known as the Foodie Gardner, offers her tips on all things gardening. She has a great Web site too with lots of info and you can sign up to get all her posts, many of which are based on her TV segments should you miss an episode-


If anyone has any tips on gardening related topics, like seed starting, growing your own veggies or ways to save money in the garden, feel free to leave a comment. Also if you’re a gardening expert or know someone who is and they’d like to be interviewed on the site, contact me or tweet @budgetsmartgirl