Monthly Archives: March 2016

Meet Dogbeard the Rescue Pug

I know I’ve been quiet for a few weeks, and it’s time now to show you all why. I’ve been really busy!

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I’d like to introduce y’all to the newest member of our family: Dogbeard Cooper Mad Eye Moody Pugsley Surles the 23rd. He was found living in an alleyway garbage pile, emaciated and starving for affection, by Jeane, the founder of Birmingham Scrollworks , who promptly decided that his career in waste management was over. Jeane rescues strays in her neighborhood and has them vetted and rehomed. Dogbeard was special to me from the moment I saw him.

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After spending over a week with the vet, it was determined that he is blind in one eye, has damage to the other eye, has some scarring that may indicate abuse, has a nasal condition called Stenotic Nares, and has a liver condition called Portosystemic Shunt, which can result in impaired cognitive function and even death. The liver shunt can also be partially managed with diet but for quality of life reasons, needs to be treated with a very expensive, but life changing, surgery. For this, we have decided to take him to a veterinary school but we will have to crowdfund the costs. Since I gave my heart to this little guy the minute I saw him, I’ve decided that I’m up to the challenge. He needs a family, ours, in fact.

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Before he came to our home, I obsessively researched pug specific care, general dog care, hotels that allow dogs, various canine medical conditions and their special dietary restrictions, poisonous foods, hatmaking, and methods of training. I also spent this time making sure the boys understand my expectations in regards to him. I’m not sure they heard me over their excitement. Still, I know, the bulk of his care will be my responsibility, and that’s ok. Special needs are nothing new to me.

We don’t know how long he lived on the street. We do know that he’s young, that he was living in a trash pile, and that as soon as he was given a small kindness, he followed Jeane home, walked right past her motley crew, and tried to become her instant lap dog.

Currently, i have started crowdfunding his surgery while we work to get him healthy enough to withstand it. This is going to require a special diet, medication, lots of cuddles, and kisses on his little forehead. Please do not use this as an opportunity to go on about how he should be put down. Value is relevant, even for a trash pile dog, and the amount of people who have told me that I should have had Baby Cat (who has spent 15 years living like a king!) euthanized for his diabetes is mind boggling. It’s easy enough to manage.

Today is his one week doggiversary. In the past week, I’ve learned many things. He’s silly, funny, and clever. He loves to cuddle and eat sliced carrots. He has learned to pee outside, walks easily enough on a leash, and has determined that I’m the pack leader. I am, but don’t tell Mr. Incredible!  He’s a very opinionated little guy who doesn’t like to be very far from me. I really want to make his surgery happen. He deserves a chance to know what a great life is.

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So say hello to Dogbeard! DB for short. Once we get him fattened up and healthy he will be embarking on an exciting new career! He will finally get to realize his lifelong dream of being a hat model.

if you would like to contribute to DB’s surgery costs, please DO! You can see it right here.  Every little bit helps!

It would also be a huge help to get shares! Every share has the potential to get us one step closer to  success!  So please help this sweet dog by sharing him everywhere!

I’ve also set up a Facebook page where I’ve been posting progress updates and random comments about dogrearing. Feel free to like it!

My regular Facebook page Is here, and I’ll be back to posting deals, recipes, and menus soon so you can follow me there as well if you want.

Thanks for helping me save this sweet little dog! He’s really a great pup and I can’t wait to see him transform with love and medical care.

 

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Freezer Friday! Let’s Talk about Steak on a Budget! Plus a Steak Sauce Recipe

This week, we are going to talk about steak. I love a good steak, but we don’t have it often. My favorite is ribeye, Mr. Incredible likes a New York Strip. From a budget-conscious perspective, though, beef in general, let alone steak, isn’t always at the top of the list.

I’ve been around the LC crowd for a lot of years, and sometimes, it seems like everyone is eating foie gras, colossal shrimp, lobster, and prime rib. It’s easy to feel left out when you look down at your extremely-tasty-but-$1-cost omelet again. When it comes to mealtime, I have champagne tastes and a beer budget so, over time, I’ve learned certain tricks when it comes to satisfying my desire to eat a pricey cut of meat. This is one of those tricks.

There’s a small grocer here who occasionally does a great sale on T-bones. One day, while I was online, obsessing over food, I was reading about cuts of beef. It turns out that the T-bone (and its friend, the Porterhouse) is comprised of two different pieces of beef. One side is where they cut the NY Strip and the other side is where they cut the tenderloin. I had to read that twice. What?

I stayed fixated on that fact for months. It’s not uncommon to find T-bones on sale here for as low as $5/lb, but I wanted to wait for just the right deal. Then, they went on sale for $3.99/lb with a two pack limit. Now, keep in mind that this is not Wagyu beef, but it’s still good enough steak. I went in twice and bought two packs each time, which I brought home so I could play “Butcher Shop”.

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As you can see, there’s a decent amount of beef on each side of the bone. I looked through the available packages to find the bigger ones while the other shoppers seemed more interested in the smaller ones.

When I got these home, I set up my cutting board and sliced down the side of the strip steak, right along the bone. I did the same on the loin side, and made two separate stacks. I also set the bones aside. Once I had gone through the steaks, I bagged all of the bones and stuck them in the freezer. I will roast those later and make a few quarts of beef stock but right now, I’m full up on quarts of turkey stock, leftover from the holidays.

I didn’t take any more pics, but there were 16 steaks total from my four packs. It was payday week, so I invested $65 in them. I packed 8 two packs of strips, and four 4 packs of loins with my foodsaver, so they will not be in danger of becoming freezer burnt.
On sale, beef loin runs $10-13 per pound and strips run about $8, so I would estimate my savings on the meat alone at about $100, then I’ll probably get another 4 quarts of beef stock at around $1-2 per quart.

With this deal, we will have steak to last till sometime during grilling season, when I’ll catch a truckload sale and get more. Whether it’s my favorite or his favorite, who knows, and who cares as long as it’s a great steak!

While we are on the subject of steak, here is a steak sauce recipe I came up with several months back. I eat mine plain with S&P and butter, but the husband likes to slather his food in sauce. It doesn’t matter what food it is, or how great of a cook I am, the meat gets sauced. I don’t take it personally, when it comes to condiments, that man has serious issues.

20 minute low carb, sugar free steak sauce

One half cup of crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp of garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
T of chili powder
T of Worcestershire
T of vinegar
One squirt of yellow mustard
A packet of sweetener

Whisk it all together, bring it to a simmer on the stove, turn off the fire then let it cool.
This keeps well in the fridge in a jar.

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Frozen Crustless Pizza aka Low Carb Pizza

For a couple of years now, I’ve been making crustless pizza. We call them Pizza Bowls and everyone here gets excited about it when they are on the menu, except the eldest. According to him, pizza without crust is “Unnatural”.

Last month, when I wrote up my second $25 Dollar Tree menu, I called them Crustless Pizza, which makes more sense for many people. So here I am, going to put the recipe separately with a twist on cooking them as convenience food frozen pizza. I tried it out today and it works GREAT.

One reason I make these is because, while I really love LC pizza crusts, it’s not uncommon for nuts to be something that can stall weight loss, and that includes almond flour crusts. It’s also not uncommon for large quantities cheese to stall weight loss, and another main ingredient in many crusts is cheese. It’s easy to keep track of your cheese intake by doing it this way, and there are no nuts.

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If you’re going to cook these straight from fresh, preheat the oven to 425.

To make these to stick in the freezer, you need some freezer to oven type pans. I used some aluminum pans I found at the Dollar Tree that come with flimsy-but-acceptable cardboard lids. If you don’t have a Dollar Tree (or your store is out, like mine is), you can get them HERE in my Amazon Affiliate shop or just see what they look like.   I made three of these, two in regular round cake pans, and one in an aluminum pan with a lid (which I froze overnight). I ate that one, myself, because I am my own beta tester.

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You start with your sauce. Add 1/4 cup of sauce to your pan and spread it around. Then add your toppings. I used cooked Italian sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, bacon, olives, mushrooms, peppers, and onions.
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Glorious cheese! I added about half a cup per pizza.

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For frozen: You put the lid on next and put it in the freezer. If you use some other type of pan, just use foil. To cook from frozen, throw away the paper lid.

To cook them straight from fresh, put them in your preheated, 425 oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, till the cheese is gooey and melted. Eat it with a fork, straight from the pan.

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To cook from frozen, take them from the freezer and throw away the lid. Then put it into your preheated, 425 oven, but cook for closer to 20 minutes. You can take them out of the freezer and thaw them beforehand, but if you do, then use the directions for cooking from fresh.

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And that’s it! These stack up well in the pans and can be an easy item to pull out of the freezer on a busy night and cook in just a short amount of time so you’re just minutes away from hot, gooey deliciousness.

Don’t forget to find me on facebook , set a bookmark, or subscribe to my emails in the upper right corner. I’m really looking forward to making, testing, and sharing more of these menus, and extreme budget recipes really are one of my passions.

Low Carb on the Road: Subway Salads

image  I was heading to work today when I realized that I had forgotten my lunch. I stopped in to Subway and ordered a salad.

Subway will make any sandwich into a salad, so in the amount of time it takes to stand there and get a sandwich made, you can get something without bread, instead. They offer two types, a regular salad with your stuff piled on and a chopped salad, where they put everything in a bowl and cut it up to bits with special knife. I prefer the former, while Mr. Incredible likes the latter. I read online that a good chopped salad has little bits of everything in every bite.

Tonight, I got a double meat BMT salad with vinegar and oil and S&P.  It wasn’t cheap, it was about eight bucks, but it was really filling.

So keep that in mind when you’re out and about, Subway is a good place to stop in for some quick, LC meals.

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Budget Low Carb $25 Seven Day 3 Meals Daily Low Carb Menu Aldi Style

This past week, I’ve been kind of busy, plus I’ve mentioned before that I think blogging is a little boring. I really love the cooking and eating, and I really enjoy working up a $25 low carb menu, but sitting still for the amount of time it takes to put up a menu post is a little difficult for me. It’s really satisfying, though, to spend that time in the kitchen and watch everything come together the way I thought it would.

For people who are unfamiliar with my $25 menus, they are designed to feed one person 3 low carb meals daily plus snacks for a week. Divide the meals in half and carry one for the next day’s lunch. They do not accommodate any addictions you may have, like diet soda, coffee, beer, etc. They presume a few things, like that you have salt and pepper in your pantry. Toilet paper costs extra.

Weigh your veggies for a good, solid carb count. I have a cheat sheet I use for quick reference.

This past week, I headed to Aldi and did some browsing. Aldi is a great store for a budget conscious shopper, and one would assume it would be pretty easy to work up a good menu for a week’s time and you can do it. The issue for me was that I like to make sure that the meals stay varied to ensure they don’t get boring, and when you eat LC, you need a certain amount of fat in your meals to keep yourself satiated and burning fat. You have to eat fat to burn fat. That’s why butter, mayo, cheese, and bacon fats are often seen in LC cooking.

Shopping at the Dollar Tree  provided tons of great variety. You can get 25 individual items there. Other stores are a little more problematic. You have to buy the big package of certain ingredients, for example, cheese. For your three bucks at Dollar Tree, you get three separate types of cheese while for the same three bucks at other stores, you get an 8 ounce block of one flavor. Thus, some creative thinking and unconventional use of certain things can be in order.

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Here is something to remember about Aldi shopping. You pay a per item price on produce, not per pound. See the two cabbages above? Those cost the same $1.29 each. If you are shopping there, look through the box for the biggest item when you are buying cabbages and cauliflower. Of course I bought the one on the left.

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Here is what I picked up this week. I want to say that I went over budget by ten cents! I was really conflicted about that dime, it’s a $25 menu, not a $25.10 menu but I went ahead and went with it.
Also, the package of chicken was $1 off. Full price was $5.33 (It was slightly over five pounds and had five thigh quarters) but I was there early in the morning and I didn’t know they did markdowns. If you really wanted to stick to the $25 theme, skip buying the lettuce. I didn’t use it. In fact, just skip the lettuce, anyway. Use that buck for something else, like chili powder if you don’t have any. You’ll need it.

One pound pack of bacon (get the cheap stuff, we are recycling the fat since we couldn’t afford butter)
One pound of ground turkey
One pound package of Fit N Active turkey hot dogs (these were $1.49 and only had one carb per dog. You could go with the .79/lb pack and have a few cents left but they’re kind of carby)
Five pound package of chicken leg/thigh quarters (or a package with five leg quarters)
Two dozen eggs
One can of black olives
One can of tomato paste
8 oz block of cheese
16 oz tub of sour cream
Bag of pork rinds
Head of cabbage
Head of cauliflower
.99 bag of onions (get the one with more small onions, rather than a few big onions)
Head of lettuce (again, I’d skip this one but it’s in the pic, so I included it in the list)

This menu is based on the presumption that you have certain things, like salt and pepper and some basic spices, like chili powder.

Let’s start with the week’s prep work.
Put 5 eggs on to boil for deviled eggs. If you don’t have mayo for the eggs, use some sour cream and maybe even a little bacon fat. I had mayo in the fridge, but I didn’t buy any because it wasn’t in the budget, so I made mine with sour cream since I am my own beta tester.
Put three of the leg quarters on and poach them. Put them in a pot and cover with water. Bring them to a boil, turn off the heat and put a lid on the pot. They will cook in the water for 15-25 minutes or so. Remove them with tongs, allow to cool, then take the meat off the bones and put it in a container in the fridge. Save that skin! Throw the bones back into the water, set the pot on the back burner, and simmer them all day because of course, we are going to make soup one day. After several hours, strain your soup broth and reserve it in the fridge. You’ll want about four cups of broth.

Take the chicken skin, salt and pepper it, and cook it in a skillet till it is crispy. Eat it.

As your leg quarters are poaching, heat your oven to 425 and lay your bacon out on a sheet pan covered in foil. Bake till crispy, and reserve the fat. My pack of bacon had 19 slices. It all cooked in two batches and made almost a cup of bacon fat.

While this is all happening, make a quart of tomato juice using this recipe.
I gave my husband a cup off the top to drink. He loves this stuff.
Here’s a thing, though. If you don’t have those seasoning ingredients, don’t sweat it. Use what you have. If you skipped the lettuce and bought the chili powder, then you’re doing well enough.

Your breakfast per day will be two slices of bacon and two eggs cooked however you prefer them. Cook the 14 eggs now or don’t. I prefer to cook them all at once and keep them in the fridge, because I hate washing dishes and I only have to wash my skillet once like this. There is a reason why I have very few dishes that won’t go in my dishwasher.

Snacks are black olives, pork rinds, and deviled eggs.

Sunday Night

Roast Chicken and vegetables

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Preheat your oven to 450.
Take  a small onion, 1/4 of the cabbage and 1/3 of the cauliflower, cut them up and put them in a 9×13 or so baking dish, drizzle with bacon fat, then put two of the chicken quarters on top and salt and pepper the whole thing. Roast this, uncovered, for 45 minutes or till the juices run clear and the internal temp is 165.
This is a combo recipe based on Sara Moulton’s Blasted Chicken and a technique I saw once where, in a market in France, they roast chickens on a spit with the veggies on pans underneath where the juices drip on them.

This is by far my favorite method of roasting chicken and it is so incredibly easy.

After you’ve dipped your food and set aside your lunch, pour the pan juices into the container with your soup stock. Also, set aside about 1/2 cup of the roast veggies for later in the week.

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Monday Night

Chili dogs and slaw

Brown the pound of ground turkey. Divide it in half and put the second half in the fridge for later. Cut half of the hot dogs into penny slices and put them in the skillet with the turkey, add a cup of the tomato juice and a TBSP or so of chili powder. You can add a little onion here if you want, or garlic, just whatever you have. Heat this on low till it’s hot.
Take 1/4 of the cabbage, shred it, mix it with enough sour cream (about 1/4 cup) to make it into slaw. Always salt and pepper, and I add a packet of sweetener to mine because we like sweet slaw.

Grate your cheese. Go ahead and grate the whole thing, so you only have to wash the cheese grater once LOL
Put half the cheese in the fridge for later and divide the rest between your two meals. There was actually enough here for three meals, so you have a little wiggle room with this one.
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Tuesday Night

Unstuffed cabbage rolls

This is a simplified version of the recipe that floats around the web regularly. You want to take half of the reserved poached chicken, 1/4 of the cabbage, and one onion. Give the cabbage and onion a rough chop and put it all in a pot together with a cup of the tomato juice, S&P, and the chicken. Season with some garlic and shake in some Worcestershire if you have it. If not? Don’t sweat it. Simmer this with a lid on till the cabbage is tender.

Here is a pic of mine with a blob of some butter I found in the fridge on top, I think a little bacon fat would have been better, though. I got three meals out of this one, too.

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Wednesday Night

Hot Dog Hash

Take 1/3 of the cauliflower and a small onion (or 3 oz or so) and give them a chop. Slice the remaining 5 hot dogs and add them to a skillet (I used my mom’s cast iron) with some hot bacon fat. Salt and pepper then cook these, stirring, till the veggies are tender and starting to brown. This is really good.

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Thursday Night
Cabbage stir fry

This is commonly called “Crack Slaw” but I don’t like that name. You want to take the remaining 1/4 of the cabbage and the reserved ground turkey plus 3 oz or so of onion, cook them in a skillet (I used my wok) in hot bacon fat till the veggies are tender, add S&P plus any spices you have (I used some ground ginger and garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon each) and if you have some soy sauce, add this at the end, even if it’s fast food Chinese packets.

I stirred in the scrambled, reserved egg white here from my experiment with making bacon fat mayo, but you can just scramble and egg and add it in.
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Friday Night

Loaded Cauli Soup

Take the quart of chicken stock you made, plus the remaining third of cauliflower, 3 oz or so of onion, whatever bacon you have left after 14 slices (I had five), S&P, your sour cream, and the rest of your cheese. Cook the cauli and the onion in the stock till they become soft, then slowly add the cheese, stirring to melt it. This is tricky, you want the soup to be hot but not boiling and you want to add the cheese just a little at a time, melt, then add more. Put about 1/4 cup of sour cream in a separate bowl with a little of the soup juice and whisk it till the sour cream in fully blended, then add it back in and stir in the crumbled bacon. Serve it with a dollop of sour cream. I sprinkled some chopped wild onion to the top of mine.

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I also took some to work in my handy dandy soup thermos that my guys gave me for Christmas.

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Saturday Night

Chicken in Tomato Cream Sauce plus a mini Fritatta

Preheat your oven to 375. Whisk together the last cup of tomato juice and 1/2 cup or so of sour cream with some S&P and a teaspoon of chili powder, put this in a small baking dish with the rest of the poached chicken and bake for 30 mins till bubbly and hot.

While this is baking, get out that bit of leftover veggie from Day 1, plus the four eggs you have remaining. Put a Tablespoon or so of sour cream in a bowl and whisk the daylights out of it with a drizzle of water till it is the consistency of cream (you only want about 2 tablespoons of this liquid). Add the eggs and whisk again. Heat an ovenproof skillet (I used cast iron) on the stove, add some bacon fat, then heat up the leftover veggies from the fridge. Pour in the egg mixture and let it cook over low heat for a minute or so till the eggs start to set around the edges. Once this happens, put it in the oven alongside your chicken dish and bake it for about ten minutes. Don’t overcook it.

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The frittata was really the star of this meal. The chicken was ok. It was good, but nothing special. I forgot to take a pic of it (but it’s not very pretty), till I was sitting at work with it in my lunch container. This meal doesn’t really make any sense, but when you’re broke, your meals don’t always make sense.

So there you have it. I know this all came from Aldi, but these items can be sourced anywhere else, and for relatively cheaply, so this menu could easily be recreated from another store.

Don’t forget to find me on facebook , set a bookmark, or subscribe to my emails in the upper right corner. I’m really looking forward to making, testing, and sharing more of these menus, and extreme budget recipes really are one of my passions.

Copycat Sugar Free V8 Juice recipe

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Mr. Incredible loves V8 juice. The thing is, it’s expensive and made with ingredients that can spike some people’s blood sugar. You can make a copycat for pennies on the dollar and for fewer carbs than ten plus per one cup serving.

When buying tomato paste, always, ALWAYS check the ingredients label.  Some brands have stuff in them, like added sugar. One can of Aldi tomato paste has 30 total carbs, and that was what I used for this.

Make Your Own Sugar Free V8 Juice Copycat

One can no sodium tomato paste
4 cans water (I add a bit more water to make it an even 4 cups)
Mix well then add:
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
pinch pepper
3 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon horseradish

Several shakes of hot sauce (Optional)
A packet of sweetener (Optional)

Take all of the ingredients and mix them up (a whisk works best!), pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator.

Per one cup serving, there will be roughly 8 carbs, depending on your ingredients. This really works well in recipes like chili and soup, to give it a nice tomato flavor without adding a lot of carb.

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