Category Archives: recipes

Master Baking Mix!


As a frugalista-wanna-be, I’m always looking for new ways to save money. For example, this week I’m going to call our trash company to get a smaller trash bin. I’ve noticed that we rarely fill it, as we typically only have 1 bag of trash a week. Yay for saving a little money!

I have also pulled out this cookbookall over again, and I love it! I love when I rediscover an old cookbook.

It’s a collection of Mennonite recipes, a community collection. It may not be the most exciting looking cookbook inside, but it’s full of gems.
The ingredients of the recipes are limited, which is nice because often they are what you have in the house. It’s about stretching the ingredients you already have (though I often have to go buy the required vegetables) and making a meal out of them. The meals aren’t gourmet, and some are plain, but they’re good, and I love the whole, “more with less” mentality too.

One of my favorite recipes in this book really isn’t a recipe. It’s called the Master Baking Mix, and it’s basically Bisquick. From this mix, which makes up to 8 pounds, you can make biscuits, pancakes, coffee cake, muffins, and probably a lot of other things that you can make with Bisquick. The nice part is there are 6 or 7 ingredients, and I can pronounce all of them.

Master Baking Mix (recipe for 4 pounds, half or double as necessary):
10 C flour
6 T baking powder
1 1/2 T salt
1 1/2 t cream of tarter
1/4 C sugar

Cut in until the consistency of cornmeal:
2 C shortening

Stir in 2 C dry milk powder (optional, but it will add more protein)

That’s it! Store in an airtight container at room temperature. I keep mine on the counter.

Then? Cook with it! There are a lot of recipes you can use Bisquick with, and it’s so easy to just scoop out a cup or two of the master baking mix. Cost-wise, I don’t know how it compares with a box of Bisquick, but I like the limited ingredients and no preservatives. It can also be made gluten free, if you use the right flour.

We use it most often for pancakes!
1 C milk
1 egg
1 1/2 C master baking mix

That’s it!
It’s small, but it’s frugal, and even these little things make me happy.


Brown sugar cookies with browned butter frosting


Have I ever told you how much I love browned butter? Well, I love it. Browned butter adds to a cookie (or, in the case also frosting) a nice nutty flavor that is different, and gives it substance. It’s amazing. These recipes come from two different places. The frosting is from and the cookies are from this wonderful book: America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. I have all three of their books, the cooking book and the healthy cooking book and I love all of them. They are so handy.

Anyway, onto the cookies!
These cookies require browned butter, just like the frosting.

To brown butter (I now know, thanks to America’s Test Kitchen!) melt it in a saucepan, stirring constantly. The butter will foam and, after 3-5 minutes, depending on how high your heat is, it should take on a nice brown color and have a nutty smell.

Roll the dough into balls, roll them into a sugar and brown sugar mixture, and set on the cookie pan. I forgot and thought these cookies were going to be squished, so I started to do that. When I went back to actually reading the recipe, I noticed that they weren’t supposed to be that way, so I decided to experiment:

Here are the flattened cookies…

…and here are the ones that were balled. I preferred the balled ones because they were a little thicker and smaller around. I suppose it’s a personal preference though!

Brown Sugar Cookies

1/4 cup white sugar
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Whisk the sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
Brown 10 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet. Transfer to a large bowl, and add the rest of the butter. Set aside for 15 minutes so the butter melts and the whole thing cools.
Stir the remaining 1 3/4 cups of brown sugar in the melted butter until mixed. Add the egg and egg yolk (I scrambled these separately and then added), vanilla and mix. Add the flour, baking soda and powder and mix until combined.

Roll 2 tablespoons of the dough into balls and roll in the sugar mixture. Place them on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies, 1 sheet at a time, 10-14 minutes, rotating the baking sheet once halfway through. Remove the baking sheet and let the cookies cool 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Browned Butter Frosting

1/3 cup of butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons milk (you can also use cream; I used whole milk)

Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it is browned and giving off a nutty smell. Remove from heat, stir in powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Beat until the frosting is smooth and spreadable.
If, at any time your frosting becomes too stiff to spread (usually if it has been sitting out), just microwave it for 30 seconds.

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday.

Pumpkin pecan pancakes!


We harvested 5 pumpkins from our garden this year. I absolutely loved having them around the house, but come December I decided that we needed to do something else with them because pumpkins really aren’t a Christmas decoration. So, I’m in the process of cutting them all up (I started with this one because it produced a LOT of pumpkin) and cooking with it, which means finding creative pumpkin recipes to use!

These pumpkin pancakes were delicious and very filling!

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup pureed or canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup chopped pecans

My local, organic, fresh pumpkin came out much less fake-orange looking than canned pumpkin!

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk wet ingredients; eggs, milk, pumpkin and butter. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in pecans.
Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a hot griddle. Flip pancakes when bubbles form on top of pancakes. Cook until second side is golden brown.
Serve with butter and syrup!

Adapted from
This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday

Who doesn’t love a good giveaway?? I’m giving away a pair of earrings right here!

7 Layer Bars!


I’m linking up with Elizabeth, at Life, Love Librarianship to share delicious Thanksgiving recipes! You should definitely go check out some of the recipes linked up! This is a repost from last Thanksgiving!

Every year for Thanksgiving (or really any family get-together where my family was the one to bring the dessert) my mom would make 7 Layer Bars. We never called them Magic Bars, but I guess that’s what they really are, since there isn’t exactly 7 layers in ours.
Anyway, the recipe comes from the back of a can of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk. I love this recipe not only because it’s delicious, but because you can bake it ahead of time and freeze them! It’s perfect holiday baking and this year for Thanksgiving I made this recipe on Sunday, when I had time. I will freeze the bars before they all get eaten and we will have them alongside pie for dessert on Thursday!

The ingredients are simple and cheap for this recipe (another reason I love it!)

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk (It doesn’t have to be Eagle Brand, but that is the one I typically use, mostly because the recipe is on the back!)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
OR 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips and 1 cup butterscotch chips
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees for glass dish). Coat 13×9-inch baking pan with no-stick cooking spray.
Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press into bottom of prepared pan. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with chocolate chips, coconut and nuts. Press down firmly with a fork.
Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Cut into bars or diamonds. Store covered at room temperature.

Easy! This recipe takes no time at all, but even when you don’t have any time, you can cook it ahead and freeze it! What’s not to love?
I didn’t take a picture of my bars because a. I’m a little lazy and b. I wanted to get them into the freezer as soon as possible before they got eaten!

Calzones! Cheap and delicious


When I was in high school we used to buy raw pizza dough and make calzones after church. It’s one of the memories I really treasure from my high school years. One of the best things about calzones (which my America’s Test Kitchen book described as “half a pizza folded over on itself”) is that you can customize them any way you want!
I love plain old cheese, without sauce in it (though this time I added broccoli, to make it a little healthier. Geoff enjoys sausage, pepperoni, things of that nature that I usually turn my nose up. This is the best of both worlds for us!

Start with a basic pizza dough. I’d write that all out, but it really isn’t difficult to find in any good cookbook, so I won’t bother with that.
Let the dough rest for 30 minutes (another excellent thing about this recipe is that you don’t have to wait for the dough to rise! So if you forgot to start this at 5 pm, like me, you don’t have to wait until 8 to eat!)

Divide the dough into two equal parts (I halved the dough recipe, so if you don’t do that you’ll want to quarter the dough so your calzones aren’t huge). On half the piece of dough put your ingredients. Fold over, seal the edges (this is really important to prevent leakage!) and bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Mine is on the left. You’ll notice it’s much prettier than Geoff’s.

They may look funny, but they were delicious!

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday and This Chick Cooks!

Creamy tomato soup


I found this recipe on Pinterest and decided I just had to try it. Like I said in my menu plan, fall is suddenly in the air, and I have been craving soup like crazy!
On Sunday I made this delicious tomato soup and I loved it so much that I wanted to share it! We had it with grilled cheese sandwiches. Why is it that tomato soup and grilled cheese go together so well?


4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 slice onion
4 whole cloves
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of black pepper
2 teaspoons white sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons half and half (or, for a lower fat option, skim milk)

1) In a pot, over medium heat, combine the tomatoes, onion, cloves and chicken broth. I added some basil, as well (we didn’t have an onion!) Bring to a boil, and gently boil for about 20 minutes to blend all of the flavors. Remove from heat and run the mixture in a food processor until blended. Strain the soup through a mesh strainer and into a large bowl. Set aside. Discard the tomatoes that were left in the strainer. (If, like me, you don’t have a mesh strainer, you can skip this step, but it will be a little chunky, and you’ll find the cloves in the soup!)

2) In a pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, cooking until the roux is a medium brown. Gradually whisk in a bit of the tomato mixture, so that no lumps form, then stir in the rest. Add 2 teaspoons of white sugar and 2 tablespoons of half and half or skim milk. Stir. Season with salt and pepper, adjust to taste. Turn of your heat and pour the soup into serving bowls.

This recipe served 4, for us, but I didn’t measure it, so I guess it depends on the size of your bowls!
And that’s it! Super easy and super yummy!

Cheap, yummy and slightly healthy!


The other day I looked out the window and saw that my broccoli was reaching critical mass. As a side note, I had no idea what broccoli really looks like when it grows, so I did a Google search to see when the time was right to pick them. Turns out it was the perfect time because apparently they flower and when the broccoli starts to turn yellow you need to pick them asap! Mine were borderline yellow so it was definitely time.

Broccoli wasn’t on the menu plan for this week, so I decided to get a little creative, and make lunch for us for the week at the same time. So I cooked up the broccoli and a box of macaroni and cheese (not the healthiest meal, but most definitely cheap) and had a nice lunch for the week!

As a side note, when I cooked up this broccoli I was shocked to see how bright green it was!

I guess when broccoli goes straight from the plant into the steamer it becomes obvious that it’s fresher than what you get in the supermarket! The more I grow my own food the more I don’t want to eat food that has been shipped to my store from the other side of the country!