Mix-n-Match Soup

A simple and tasty homemade soup using things in your pantry, cupboards, and freezer.  When my kids were little, we called this Stone Soup because it resembles the soup in the classic children’s story.

MIX-n-MATCH SOUP
(8 generous servings)

BROTH (Choose One)
Tomato: One 12-oz. can tomato paste PLUS two 16-oz. cans tomatoes with juice (chopped) PLUS water to equal 10 cups total
Chicken/Turkey: 10 cups broth or 5 bouillon cubes dissolved in 10 cups water
Beef: 10 cups broth or 5 bouillon cubes dissolved in 10 cups water

PROTEIN (Choose One – 1 lb or 2 cups cooked)
Ground beef, browned
Cooked chicken, turkey or ham – cut up
Lentils, raw or cooked
Frankfurters, sausage, Kielbasa – sliced
Cooked or canned beans (pinto, kidney, etc.)

GRAIN (Choose One – 2 cups)
Rice, cooked
Barley, cooked
Pasta, raw
Corn
Dumplings (add at end of cooking time)

VEGETABLES (Choose Two – 1-2 cups sliced, diced or shredded)
Carrots
Celery
Cabbage
Onion
Potatoes
Tomatoes
Green Beans
Turnips
Potatoes
Broccoli
Peas or pea pods
Cauliflower
Peppers
Zucchini
Corn

SEASONINGS (Choose 2 to 4 – 1-2 teaspoons each)
Basil
Cayenne (dash)
Chives
Cumin
Garlic
Marjoram
Onion Powder
Thyme
Rosemary
Parsley
Oregano

TO PREPARE SOUP
Bring stock to boil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Add all ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat. Simmer one hour.

Excerpted from the book Mix-n-Match Recipes.

https://simplepleasurespress.com/our-catalog/mix-n-match-recipes/

Stir It Up! Fast and Easy Stir-Fry Cooking


On busy days, it’s often more than a little tempting to get an expensive drive-thru dinner just because the ingredients you have at home will take too long to make into a meal. But I’ve found that if I keep ingredients handy in the pantry and refrigerator for simple meal prep, I can have dinner on the table in a flash – and protect my pocketbook from that ravenous Fast Food Monster at the same time!

One of my favorite quick fix meal preparation methods is stir-frying. Including the prep time of chopping up meats and veggies, I can usually have a meal on the table from start to finish in about 15-20 minutes. It’s just a simple process where you rapidly cook meat and vegetables in a small amount of oil. The process is similar to sauteing, except you use less oil, hotter temperatures, and usually a wok. I do most of my stir-frying in my large heavy skillet on the stove-top because I don’t have enough storage in my kitchen to keep my wok handy. I’m usually just too lazy on a hectic day to walk to the cupboard down the hall to grab the wok.

You can find basic stir-fry instructions in almost any good general cookbook or browse through books at the library on Asian cooking. With a quick search online, you’ll discover that the Internet’s full of great recipes – and all for free! Don’t you just love that price? It warms my little frugal heart.

Here are few simple tips to keep in mind when you pull out your first wok recipe:

  1. You want the oil in your wok or frying pan hot enough that it’s slightly smoking, otherwise the stir-frying will be too slow and your vegetables will be limp.
  2. Cut your ingredients into thin, bite-sized pieces so they’ll cook evenly and quickly.
  3. It’s helpful to choose vegetables and meats that will all cook at about the same speed, otherwise you have to keep track of when to add the different ingredients so everything’s cooked, but nothing’s overcooked.
  4. Cook the meat first, remove from the pan, and then cook the vegetables. Add the meat back into the pan at the end of cooking. This keeps the flavors distinct and separate, and also keeps the meat from overcooking.
  5. If you have ingredients that need to be added at different times in the cooking process, chop them up ahead of time and put them onto separate plates. Then you can just pick up the plate and dump the contents directly into the wok or frying pan as needed.
  6. When stir-frying, you want everything chopped and prepped in advance because you can’t stop stir-frying partway through the process to cut up vegetables or slice meat.
  7. Once you start cooking, keep stirring and tossing constantly or things will burn or cook unevenly.
  8. Fresh vegetables are wonderful in stir-fry meals, so when your summer garden really starts producing, you’re in the middle of stir-fry days.

To make stir-frying easy as can be, you’ll want to keep stocked up on some pantry staples. Keep watch for the following items when they go on sale – then you’ll be ready to stir-fry at a moment’s notice: fresh garlic, crushed red pepper, sesame seeds, red chili paste, fresh ginger, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, chopped peanuts and cashews, Chinese spice blend, sesame oil, peanut oil, soy sauce, Teriyaki sauce, rice vinegar, beef broth, cooking sherry, cornstarch, rice, and Asian noodles.

Happy fast-and-easy cooking, everyone!

~Debi


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A Simple Christmas Workshop

cinnamon ornamentsA couple of years ago, I put together a short online workshop on how to simplify your holiday celebrations.  I thought for those of you who may have missed it, you might want the opportunity to work your way through the simple thoughtful practices.

You can find Day One at the following link:

A Simple Christmas Workshop – Day One

I hope you find these exercises helpful.

~Debi

Funding a Frugal Holiday Season

santa-piggy-bank

With the holiday season upon us, we often hear the familiar refrains of our favorite Christmas carols and seasonal music. But too many of us tend to sing different words to the familiar tune of Jingle Bells: Continue reading

Christmas Tree Poll