Great Potato Side Dish

I love making new potato dishes.  My family loves potoatoes and we eat them in many different forms.  Side dishes are not something I think of to make all the time, so I decided to make this the other night.  My family loved them.  Please try them and let me know what you think.

Crunchy New Potatoes

12 small new red potatoes
2 c crushed cornflakes
1 pack ranch dressing
8 T melted butter
Dash of pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook potatoes 25 minutes in boiling water then drain. Cool
slightly then peel. Mix the dressing, pepper, and crumbs in a bowl. Dip potatoes in
melted butter and roll in crumb mix. Put in the bottom of a sprayed 8x8 dish and bake
25 minutes. These are great with grilled chicken, fish, or baked ham.

National Hot Chocolate Day

Today is National Hot Chocloate day!!  Yeah..except in Iowa it was in the 50's today.  Not so much a hot chocolate day.  Here is a great recipe if you are in the mood to have your own cup.

Mexican Hot Cocoa
3 1/4 cups 2% milk
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 egg, beaten
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Place the white chocolate in a medium metal bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, or in the top half of a double boiler. Allow the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally until smooth. Stir in cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Whisk in the egg until smooth.               

Gradually whisk in one cup of the milk until completely incorporated, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in remaining milk, and heat until hot, but not simmering. You do not want a skin to form on top of the milk. It will be ready to drink when either the taste of the cayenne is masked by the temperature of the milk (the spiciness of the pepper will remain), or when the hot chocolate is at your desired temperature. Ladle the hot chocolate into mugs and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon.               


Change is Happening!

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This week the true reality hit me..a bit late for a New Year's Resolution, but somewhere over the last few years I have become FAT!  Not just FAT, but OBESE.  Yes, just like many American's.  I never lost the weight from my babies, and just kept packing on the pounds.

I had a physical and my blood pressure was creeping into the high range.  My mom has just been diagnosed with lung cancer and the prognosis is not going to be good.  I am now under more stress than ever before and decided to make some life changes to become healthy in my mind, body, and spirit.  I have adjusted my menus and am starting to change the way my family eats.

 I also joined the Y.  I feel so out of place in a gym.  I have not been in one in about 15 years.  Now, this may be part of the problem.  I am following the babystep method of change by changing items monthly. 

I am taking advantage of my wellness program at my work and now I have been exercising for the past week.  I feel great and have a lot of motivation.  I am going to be weighing in with all my readers weekly.  This week I have lost 3 pounds.  Yeah for me!  I am now a whopping 183 lbs.  I am hopeful that I will lose at least 30 lbs. by July because we have a large trip we are taking.  Keep tuned in for my progress. 
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My daughter's first ballet--THE SNOW QUEEN

Today's post is a bit off the frugal cooking corner topics, but I just have to brag a little.  My daughter has attended dance classes for the last 5 years.  She started when she was three.  This year she tried out for a ballet that is being put on by another school in my town.  As an eight year old, I feel she has talent, but I really didn't know.  That was until she stepped way out of her comfort zone and tried out for this ballet.  She went into the audtition not knowing anyone.  She was very nervous and wanted to leave.  I told her to go ahead and try out and guess what she got a part!  What a proud mom that made me.  Week after week we have went to practices on Friday nights.  She has missed birthday parties, but tonight marks the end of this journey.  I am so proud of all her hard work.  This weekend will be the show.  There are two shows on Saturday. At 2 pm and 7 pm. If you are in the Des Moines area this show will be at adventureland and tickets are available at the door.  Come see this wonderful Show!  If you are interested in learning about the show check out this site: Principle Dance Corps


Homemade Playdough

It is winter here in Iowa (even though it doesn't feel like it) and my children are starting to get the cooped up feeling.  Today the playdough toys came out and we figured out that our playdough was no good.  I had too much to do to warrant another trip to the store, so I looked up a recipe for homemade playdough and much to my surprise it was great.  This recipe used items I already had in my kitchen and the bonus was the it was made from koolaid and this made it smell wonderful.

The bonus to this recipe is that it made a large rubbermaid container full.  This will give us many hours of play. 


    • 2 1/2 cups flour
    • 1/2 cup salt
    • 2 (4 g) packages unsweetened Kool-Aid powdered drink mix
    • 2 cups boiling water
    • 3 tablespoons oil


  1. Mix flour, salt, Kool-Aid until blended. 
  2. Add oil to  boiling water, mix with spoon until cool enough to knead. 
  3. Continue kneading until color is blended. 
  4. Store in air tight bag or container in the refrigerator.



Menu Plan Monday January 9 2012

Menu Plan Monday is hosted at Organizing Junkie - stop by for hundreds of menus
Here is to another crazy week.  This week we are fully back to busy in my house.  We have church classes, I have classes, and my daughter has all her dance classes and extra classes for the ballet she is in.  I have planned an easy meal week with crockpots and stir fries. This week all my recipes are new to me and I plan to share the keepers with all my readers.

Monday:  Leftovers

Tuesday:  Chicken Tortilla Soup Crock pot

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday: Gingered Beef

Friday:  Fish Nicoise

Saturday:  Homemade Pizza

Sunday: Apple Dijon Pork Roast Crock pot

As always I am linking with www.orgjunkie.com

Crab Stuffed Cannelloni

Picture of Crab and Ricotta Cannelloni Recipe

This dish was super easy and delicious.  It is a little more than I want to spend on a dinner, but I used canned crab meat and this saved my dollar amount from buying fresh crab.  I think that the whole pan was around $6.00 to make.  Still frugal when it lasts for at least two, maybe three nights.  This dinner would classify in my book as a fancy dinner.  It is something amazing that I would see at a high end restaurant.  I took my inspiration for this dish from Giada.  It screams Italian, and I wanted to transport myself to my roots.  Here is this great recipe.  I can't wait for you to try it also.

Crab Stuffed Cannelloni

  • 1 box (8 ounces) cannelloni or manicotti pasta (about 12 shells)

  • 1 cup skim milk ricotta cheese

  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 1 teaspoon basil leaves

  • 1 can lump crabmeat

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

  • Bechamel Sauce, recipe follows

  • Directions

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

    In a large bowl, mix together ricotta, 3/4 cup Parmesan, egg yolk, basil, crab, salt, and pepper.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Fill the cannelloni with the crab mixture and place in a buttered baking dish. Top the filled cannelloni with the Bechamel Sauce and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake until bubbly and the top is golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

    Bechamel Sauce:

    • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 4 cups skim milk, warmed
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
    • 1 clove of garlic
    • 1 cup smoked provolone cheese
    In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick, smooth, and creamy, about 10 minutes (do not allow the sauce to boil). Add in the minced garlic and smoked provolone cheese.   Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, pepper.  If short on time this sauce canbe made ahead and refrigerated for 3 days.


    Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Breast

    I used this idea from Racheal Ray with a few modifications.  I happen to love Chicken Marsala, but didn't have any wine on hand.  I did have some white wine on hand and this is the dish I changed up a bit.  I happen to love it and it is going to be a mainstay on my menu for this next year.  So far, I have stuck to my menu of new meals to us. 


    • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
    • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
    • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
    • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 3/4 cup fresh ricotta or sheep's milk ricotta
    • 1 box organic frozen spinach, defrosted, squeezed dry, and separated
    • flour, for dredging
    • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    • 1/2 cup marsala wine
    • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
    • A handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
    • almond pilaf, for serving, recipe follows


    In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add a liberal drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil plus 2 tablespoons butter and saute the mushrooms for 8 to10 minute to darken.

    Meanwhile, butterfly the chicken breasts open and pound them out very thin, no more than 1/8-inch thick. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and top each piece of chicken with 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese and spread it around. Top with 1/4 of the spinach and season with salt and pepper.  Roll the chicken into bundles and secure with toothpicks. Season the bundles with salt and pepper and dredge lightly in flour.

    Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper and remove to a plate. Add extra-virgin olive oil to coat the pan. Add the chicken and cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and cover with foil. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan, sprinkle in 2 tablespoons flour, and deglaze the pan with white wine. Add the broth and garlic and cook to thicken, about 1 to 2 minutes, and then add the mushrooms to combine. Remove the string from the chicken and top with sauce. Serve with Almond Pilaf.

    Almond Pilaf:

    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1/2 cup orzo pasta
    • 1/4 cup almonds
    • 1 cup long grain rice
    • 2 cups chicken stock
    Melt the butter in a saucepot over medium heat. Add the orzo and almonds and toast until golden. Add the rice and stir in the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer, and cover. Cook for 18 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.


    Goals for 2012

    I have been sitting and thinking this year already what my goals are going to be.Each year, I try to find goals that I can attain throughout the year.  This year, however, I am going to try to aim a bit higher.  If I fail then that is okay.  I am hopeful that 2012 will be my best year yet.  

    I want to grow in my professional realm this year.  I will be graduating with my advanced nursing degree in August.  I am so proud of myself and I have reached many academic milestones.  I have been invited to become a member of the national nursing honor society (which I have gladly accepted).  Now it is time to find the perfect job.

    I also want to create a better blog.  My goal is to post at least 5-6 posts each week.  I am going to focus on mostly my frugal recipes, but will also throw in a frugal project or two that I work on in my household.  I really want to create a place where people can come for a resource on frugal living. 

    I also need to lose 50 pounds and eat healthier.  Therefore, I am going to try to find the healthiest frugal recipes I am able to find.  I have a budget of $400 per month for food and toiletries for my family of 4.  We live well and do not want for much.  I also need to incorporate some exercise into my life.  I am starting this by using zumba for my Wii.  I will let you all know weekly how this is going for me.  I am hoping the pounds will start to decrese.  These updates will start beginning next week.  I am currently battling some type of respiratory bug and am not able to exercise today. 

    Here's to a great 2012!

    Hot Cocoa Mix-Homemade version

    I made hot cocoa this year for my children's friends.  This recipe was very creamy and it is loved by all who have received it.  I also have been asked for the recipe many times after someone has tasted the cocoa.  If you live in an area where you have harsh winters, then please make some of this and relax in front of a warm fire. 

    Hot Cocoa Mix


    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 cup cocoa)
    • 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
    Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly. In a small pot, heat 4 to 6 cups of water.

    Fill your mug half full with the mixture and pour in hot water. Stir to combine. Seal the rest in an airtight container, keeps indefinitely in the pantry. This also works great with warm milk.


    Creamy Chicken and Homestyle Noodles

    I made roasted chicken breasts on Friday night.  Saturday night we had a takeout fakeout at home for our New Year's celebration.  Sunday night I made this great dish and we are eating leftovers tonight.  If you like amish style chicken and noodles, you will LOVE this dish. 

    The part I loved about this dish is that I didn't have to roast a whole chicken and debone it.  I used two leftover large chicken breasts and shredded the meat.  I added some celery, onions, carrots, and broth and let it cook away.  I then added parsley and the noodles and let it cook about 40 mins.  VOILA!  done.  Not much effort and a great winter meal. 

    Creamy Chicken and Homestyle Noodles

    leftover chicken shredded
    2 cups onion chopped
    2 cups celery chopped
    2 cups carrots chopped
    12 cups chicken broth, I use homemade
    1 can evaporated milk
    salt and pepper to taste
    parsley for garnish
    1 package frozen Raemes noodles

    Cook onion, celery, and carrots until translucent.  Add chicken and stock.  Cook 1 hour to soften vegetables.  Add noodles and cook about 40 mins.  Add parsley and evaporated milk and heat till hot.  Serve. 

    I served this with crusty garlic rolls.  It was absolutely the best leftover meal I have ever tasted.  I can't wait for the leftovers tonight.

    Menu Plan Monday 1/2/12

    This year is off to a wonderful start and I have vowed to create a monthly meal plan.  This past year, I have successfully planned a week at a time, and some weeks have went better than others. 

    This year I am tackling monthly meal planning, so that I am able to have a better budget.  Sunday night I sat and made up a months worth of meals.  I will continue to post my weekly meal plan and then add recipes as able to anthing new I have tried during my week.  This month, I am trying many new meals and also have planned with my pantry in mind.  I am doing a pantry challenge because I want to do out with the old and in with the new. 

    Week of Jan 2-2012

    Monday:  Creamy Chicken and Noodles

    Tuesday: Tacos

    Wednesday: Ricotta stuffed chicken marsala

    Thursday:  Orange Pork medallions with roasted carrots

    Friday:  Leftovers

    Saturday:  Braciole

    Sunday:  Ricotta stuffed shrimp canneloni

    as always I am linking with www.orgjunkie.com