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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dried Zucchini Chips

I am a lover of all things zucchini and when I heard about making them into chips, I knew I had to try them.
They are not baked or fried like a traditional chip. These use a food dehydrator.
They don't get quite as crisp and crunchy as a regular chip, but they are still pretty tasty.

You will need a food dehydrator, or the lowest setting on the oven you have.
You will need a mandolin, food processor with slicing disk, or a knife for slicing the zucchini.

3 medium zucchini, cleaned and sliced thin- I sliced mine about 1/8" thick.
a few Tablespoons olive oil
salt, pepper, or other seasoning as desired

Slice the zucchini and put in a large bowl.
Drizzle over the olive oil and  sprinkle lightly with seasonings.
Work the oil and seasoning into the slices so they are fairly evenly coated.
Set your dehydrator to 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spread the zucchini out in a single layer. I used 4 trays.
Dehydrate for 4 to 5 hours.
Take out and store in covered container.
Best eaten within a couple days.

This will be enough for 3-4 people.
If you use your oven, check them often and turn them. They will take about 2-3 hours.
Don't go heavy on the spices. The flavor intensifies as the chips dry.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Frugal Me Fridays- School Lunch

My daughter just started back to school this week and it made me think that taking your lunch to school or work would make for a good frugal topic.

My daughter is now a junior and has been taking her lunch since elementary school.

Packing a lunch is not only more economical, it can be healthier.

Most schools rely heavily on processed foods and making a lunch can be as processed or as fresh as you want to make it.

If I had to pay for my daughter to eat at school, it would cost me almost $3 a day.
Packing a lunch doesn't cost much of anything depending on what you choose to send.
The cost of the groceries can be absorbed into the food budget and you may not notice a difference.

You do have your start up costs.
You should have a lunch box or bag.
You need some containers for food and drink, as well as a wide mouth thermos for anything that needs kept cold or very hot.
An ice pack is also a good idea.

I like to send leftovers.
Heat them up.
Before you put them in the food thermos, heat the thermos with boiling hot water for about 10-15 minutes.

Make up a big batch of pudding that you divide into containers to last the week.

You can do a lot of prep the night before so it doesn't take much.
Finish it up while they are eating breakfast.

I even saw an idea once for sending a hotdog to school.
Fill a big thermos with boiling water and add the hotdog.
Pack a bun separately.
At lunch, the child can take the hotdog out the the thermos and put in the bun.

If you have a garden, send some fresh veggies.
Green pepper slices or cherry tomatoes or even carrots.
If you don't have a garden, check out the farmer's market in your area.

I also like to send popcorn sometimes.

Have a great Friday!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Frugal Me Fridays- The Food Dehydrator Investment

I love my food dehydrator. It isn't something I use every day, but it has paid for itself in many ways.

A dehydrator will cost anywhere from $50 for a simple one to well over $150 for a big box dehydrator.
For my needs, I went simple.
I can buy more trays, should I ever need them.

If you plan to dry herbs, make sure you get a digital thermometer instead of one with a dial.
The digital is a bit higher priced, but it is more accurate.
With herbs, just a little too high of temperature and they will get ruined.

Today, I am planning to make some zucchini chips using the dehydrator.
I will have to let you know the results.

The dehydrator can save you a lot of money and you will end up with something a lot more nutritious.
Both are big wins and totally worth it.

Grow your own herbs and dry them.

Get bananas when they are marked down or free and make banana chips. They taste so much better. If you look at banana chips from the store, you see oil in the ingredient list. Because, they have been fried too.

You can dry all kinds of fruits or puree the fruit and make fruit leather-also known as fruit by the foot.

You can make your own meat jerky.

Try vegetable chips in it instead of frying or baking if you are into raw foods.
I have read about lots of foods done this way, but not white potatoes. I am not sure about that.
But I have read about using kale, sweet potatoes, and zucchini. You could do garlic and onions also.
Pretty much what you want to try.


My husband is finally settling into his new job. It has been quite a change. After 7 years of works overnights, he is now on days. Rearranging my schedule has been something too. He will also have normal weekends so that will be nice. I have not had a day during the school year when I got to just sleep in.
When Kiddo was off on the weekends, he was coming in from work and I'd wake up.
His new job is a pay cut, but closer to home.

Have a great Friday everyone!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My Heirlooms!

I am excited.
My Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes are finally ripening.
They look a bit different than the standard tomato. They have green shoulders, but are still ripe.
The red is a deep, dusky hue instead of just red, red.
They have a complex flavor that you have to try to really understand what I mean.
The smell is just incredible!

This year I grew Rutgers, Delicious, and Cherokee Purple.
All three are considered heirloom.
I think of the Cherokee and Delicious as more so than the Rutgers.
The Rutgers was developed in the 1940s so it is old enough to be considered heirloom.

When you buy the plants, heirlooms cost no more.
Many times, when you buy the seeds, heirlooms have more seeds per packet.

I love when the tomatoes are ready.
Time to make salsa- fresh and canned.
Can tomatoes for the coming seasons.
And just eat them!

This is a summertime favorite for my daughter and I. We slice up some tomatoes and cucumbers, sprinkle with salt and enjoy!

Do you have a favorite kind of tomato?
Do you have a favorite was to eat them?

Have a great day!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Layered Zucchini

I love this time of year! This is when my garden really starts to hit it's stride. One of my garden favorites is zucchini and I use it in as many dishes as I can.

This year I have four plants and, so far, they are all producing.
I am bringing in about three to four zucchini a day.
It's time to get cookin'!

Layered zucchini reminds me of lasagna a little bit.
Instead of the noodles, you use zucchini.

Layered Zucchini:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/175 Celsius.
You will need a large saucepan.
You will also need a colander, a small bowl, and a skillet.
To bake, you will need a greased 8" square pan.

6 cups sliced zucchini- 3 or 4 medium/small, 5 or 6 small, OR 1 large
1/2 pound ground turkey OR ground beef
1 cup spaghetti OR tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano OR 1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves OR 1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup cottage cheese
1 egg
1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 cup ground flax OR dry bread crumbs
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese   

After you have sliced 6 cups of zucchini, partially fill a large saucepan with water and salt it. Bring the water to a boil and add the zucchini. Cook for 5 minutes. Any longer and the zucchini will be too soft.
Drain. Cool.
Crown and crumble the ground turkey in your skillet. Stir in the tomato sauce, oregano, basil, salt, and garlic powder. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix the egg, cottage cheese, and parsley.
Get your baking pan and layer half of the zucchini in it.
Sprinkle with half of the ground flax
Cover that with half of the cottage cheese mixture, half the ground turkey mixture, and half of the mozzarella.
Repeat, except do not add the rest of the mozzarella yet.
Put in the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes.
Take out and sprinkle with the mozzarella and put back in the oven for a few minutes- just to melt the cheese.

This makes enough for 4 or 5 people.

You can buy flax seeds or already ground seeds.
Have a great day!