Lazy Budget Chef: 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

Top 10 Lazy Budget Chef Posts for 2013

It is almost time to wrap up 2013 with a nice shiny bow and call it a year. 2013 was much kinder to us than 2012. This year we welcomed the pitter patter of little feet into our family in February when we adopted Lacey.
My recipes and posts took a dog related turn with dog treat recipes and quick meals so the humans could eat decent meals while spending almost all of our extra time working with Lacey on her behavioral issues Dog face.
Lacey still has a way to go before she finds the confident dog we know is inside her but she is making good progress. As you can see from her Christmas photo, Lacey has posing for the camera down pat!
Through it all, I blogged it and you read it. Here are my top ten most read Lazy Budget Chef posts for 2013.

1. 12 Things I Do Not Buy

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cranberry Pineapple Jam Recipe

Hello, my name is Lisa and I am a Jamaholic.

I really, really, really like making jam. The more interesting the ingredients, the better I like it.

Fortunately, my little small batch jam hobby obsession comes in handy when it comes time to buy Christmas gifts. Homemade jam makes a great hostess, gift exchange, stocking stuffer, yikes! I forgot to get something for Great Aunt Tilly gift.

Or you can just enjoy your homemade jam on toast every morning like we do.

We go through so many little jars of jam, I got smart and started using pint jars.
 I also use a few half pint jars in case I want to give them as a tasty holiday food gift.

Now that cranberry season is here I can finally try out a few recipe ideas I jotted down during last summer’s Ye-haw! Berries Are In Season and On Sale season.

I trim the budget a bit by buying my cranberries when they are on holiday sale and grate my own orange zest from orange peels we air dry after we enjoy an orange or two as a snack. I never run out of orange zest because I store the dried orange peels in a repurposed jar in the cupboard with my baking supplies. I can't tell you how many years it took me to clue in to that little lazy budget way to keep orange zest on hand for cheap. I do the same thing with lemon peels too.

I know fresh fruit is best but in the interest of time and expense, not to mention the extra work involved peeling, coring, and crushing pineapple for this recipe I may have cheated and used canned pineapple.

Either way, the recipe tastes fancy but couldn’t be cheaper and simpler to make.

How to Make Pineapple Cranberry Jam

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Danish Christmas Cardamom Cookie Recipe

 I like how the holiday season allows me to combine two of my very favorite things:
  1. Baking sweets and making candy I can give away and not be tempted to eat (too much. However, I reserve the right to sample for quality assurance of course!) 

  2. Sharing my Danish heritage with my family and friends.

Cardamom shows up in a lot of Danish baking. Cardamom is a savory member of the ginger family and whenever I use it in a recipe, the food disappears quickly!

I always get repeat requests when I bring a batch of Danish cookies to a holiday party. Let's make some!

Danish Cardamom Cookie Recipe

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Quick and Easy Spiced Cranberry Sauce Recipe

I grew up eating Thanksgiving cranberry sauce from a can. I figured cranberry sauce must be hard to make and that's why so many people buy the canned stuff.


I learned just how easy it is to make cranberry sauce the year Husband and I threw a Thanksgiving dinner for some international grad students. We wanted the dinner to be as traditional as possible because we were introducing them to their first American holiday.

Cranberries. Water. Sugar. That's it.

Cranberry sauce yum!

We've been making cranberry sauce from fresh cranberries ever since. 

In a house with two daring foodies with a large spice rack, it didn't take long for Husband and I to start tweaking the basic cranberry sauce recipe into a fantastic and still easy spiced cranberry sauce recipe.

Easy Cranberry Jelly Recipe

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hickory Farms #HolidayTradition Giveaway!

My earliest Thanksgiving memory is also my favorite. It comes back to me every Thanksgiving when we are sitting at the table and waiting for the turkey to appear.

My mom called everyone to the table for Thanksgiving dinner. We sat there and waited for my Mom to start putting the food on the table from the kitchen.

And we waited.

And we waited.

And we waited.

My grandfather tried to distract fidgety and hungry four year old me by teaching me a trick he guaranteed would make the food come faster.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Brown Butter Skirt Steak

Look at it.

My dinner.

I made brown butter skirt steak with wilted chicory and red potato salad.

 It tastes better than it looks and it looks magnificent!

It was such a success, I followed it the next night with this pesto shrimp orzo with summer squash carpaccio.

Monday, November 11, 2013

8 Days of Pumpkin

I did it! My pumpkin dog treat project was more budget than lazy, and it took eight days to do it, but I turned our three Halloween pumpkins into dried pumpkin dog treats and pumpkin powder to mix into Lacey's food.

Three Pumpkins Before

Three Pumpkins After

Thursday, November 7, 2013

25 Gift Ideas that Save Money: Holiday Gifts You Actually Want to Give and Get

Ask 20 different people what they think makes the perfect holiday gift and you will get 20 different answers. Some people like holiday gifts to be an indulgence. Some people like holiday gifts to be insanely practical. Still other people have the pie in the sky notion that you should be able to read their mind and get them something they don’t even know they want to be the perfect gift.

At our house we do a little bit of each (except the mind reading one.) I have to say though, the gifts I like and use most often are the holiday gifts that help me save money.


Pin this list of Christmas gift ideas for later!

Monday, November 4, 2013

How to Make Dried Pumpkin Dog Treats

When Lacey gets nervous or anxious she sometimes has an accident and tries to eat the evidence.

It is as delightful to deal with as it sounds.

Our behaviorist suggested we give Lacey either pumpkin or pineapple because it is something dogs can eat safely that "goes down tasting good and comes out tasting bad."

How to Make Dried Pumpkin Dog Treat Recipe
 Pin this recipe to your Pinterest boards for later! Share it with your friends!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How to Make Lemon Garlic Chicken with a Wonderbag

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Wonderbag, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #WonderBag

Recently I was trading quick dinner recipe ideas for the busy holidays on one of my Facebook groups. Most of our ideas were slow cooker recipes especially when it comes to this Lazy Budget Chef. I swear sometimes we would not eat if it weren’t for our slow cooker!

Then I got a little jolt of how wonderfully different my friends are when one of members of the group said she doesn’t have a slow cooker because she doesn’t feel comfortable leaving it plugged in when she is not home. Huh. I never thought of that.

I had her in mind when I got an offer to try cooking a meal in a  Wonderbag, a non electric heat retention and insulated slow cooker.


Monday, October 21, 2013

10 Sweet and Savory Roast Pumpkin Seed Recipes

Do you know how to make a little dog smile?

Buy her a pumpkin.

Or four.

When Lacey gets nervous, or anxious she sometimes has an accident and tries to eat the evidence (gross.)

Our behaviorist suggested we give Lacey either pumpkin or pineapple because it is something dogs can eat safely that "goes down tasting good and comes out tasting bad." Lacey quickly cleared out my fresh pumpkin puree stash in the freezer.

When I thought Lacey was over this little issue, I stopped adding dehydrated pumpkin to her food and she proved me wrong. That's why I bought Lacey four pumpkins for Halloween. Lacey might get a few more if I can find a deal on pumpkins after the holiday.

All of these pumpkins are for me to eat?! Thank you Lisa!

It doesn't look like Husband and I are going to any fresh pumpkin pulp treats this year but that's OK. We can roast, flavor and snack on the seeds. Here's how.

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

Friday, October 18, 2013

Gaia Herbs’ Liquid Iron Giveaway!

Apparently I live in some sort of vortex that stacks extra commitments and projects on top of a personal project that already has a tight deadline.

Well, it could be that I have a problem saying no when someone asks for my help, but I’d rather blame the tired and blah feeling I get from being so busy to The Vortex.

I usually bounce back the following week by clearing my schedule, eating balanced meals again, and chilling out with my husband and Lacey. Pop! My energy returns and I am good to go.

Lately, I’ve been feeling tired and blah. I’ve made a strong effort not to place multiple personal high priority deadlines in my schedule. Working with Lacey on her behavioral issues guarantees that I am exercising. Hmmm…diet perhaps? PlantForceHerbalIron_8.5
I had to make changes to my whole foods diet to deal with my lactose intolerance over a year ago. I wondered if I was getting all of the nutrients I need since cutting out milk ingredients. I kept a food diary of everything I ate and drank for a month. Then I showed the food diary to my family doctor during an office visit because, you guessed it, I was feeling worn out, draggy, and tired.

The food diary revealed I am inconsistent in getting some of the nutrients I need every day since I have to skip food containing milk ingredients when I’m not eating at home. No wonder I am tired most of the time! Fortunately, taking (or in my case, remembering to take) a daily supplement should fill in any gaps in my diet that sometimes occur.

Gaia PlantForce Liquid Iron 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Martha Stewart: Bloggers are Not Experts (Unless We Do Her Bidding)

I have mixed feeling about yesterday’s Martha Stewart’s interview when she dismisses bloggers with a wave of her hand and says in that elitist tone she’s been know to use:
Who are these bloggers? They’re not trained editors at Vogue magazine. I mean there are bloggers writing recipes that aren’t tested, that aren’t necessarily very good, or are copies of everything that really good editors have created and done. So bloggers create a kind of popularity, but they are not the experts. And we have to understand that.

In case you have not seen it, I’m embedding the video interview below:

I'm very disappointed with Martha Stewart's disparaging comments about bloggers especially when many of the blogger she insults, buy, use, and sometimes promote her products.

Sadly I’m not surprised Martha feels this way about bloggers because she sees us as competition and the reason why her company is losing money, 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

7 Ways to Remove Sticky Jar Labels

 When I told Husband about my plan to pest proof the rest of our pantry and kitchen because a photo of a friend’s pantry moth invasion skeeved me out he finished my sentence for me, “by putting everything in jars like a crazy person?”

He knows me.

Because I’m taking everything out of  boxes and bags and putting it into jars like a crazy person.

I clean out and consolidate as time and empty jars permit. I like to reuse empty food jars as much as I can to free up my mason jars for canning. It is cheaper too.

7 Ways to Remove Sticky Jar Labels
 Pin this post to Pinterest for later! Share this tutorial with your friends!

Glass jars are my favorite because they don’t absorb odor. I don’t have to check and double check if they are BPA free either. Fortunately, our salsa habit is helping us with this recycled jar organization and moth proofing project.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

19 Fancy but Easy Jam Recipes

Now that I am not afraid of canning (or as afraid of canning as I used to be), I found I really like making jam. I especially like making recipes that have something like an unexpected spice mixed in with the fruit and sugar.

Hey, I figure if If I am going to go to the trouble of making jam instead of buying it, then it better be something special or different than a basic fruit and sugar recipe I can buy at the grocery store or farm market.

I'm collecting interesting jam recipes on my Pinterest boards (give me a follow, pretty please?) and making my favorites. I figure it is only neighborly to share. The recipes. I can’t share the jam because many of these recipes are small batches, make 1 jar (perfect if you don’t want to can it!), or are for freezer jam.
These recipes look and taste all fancy pants gourmet but they are super simple to make.  I like having extra homemade jam on hand so I can help Santa out in the gift and stocking stuffer area on Christmas day. We’re tight like that.

Let’s jam!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How do You Prevent Pantry Months, Ants, and Pests?

We had pantry moths a few years after we bought our condo from wild sage we picked on vacation.

How do You Prevent Pantry Months Antsand Pests

I tried to save the bags of flour by putting them in the freezer to kill moth larvae but it was futile. As much as it killed me to throw out food, it was either the food or the moths. The moths had to go!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How to Make Sun Dried Tomatoes

I don't think I'm supposed to grow tomatoes - ever. Our first attempt yielded about 6 tomatoes. The following year our tomato plants gave us a police helicopter flyover and paddy wagon drive by (I'm not kidding, read about it here.)  This year I hoped our tomato plants would do better on the back patio because it gets more sun.

Tomatoes like it hot and sunny.

Too bad it wasn't hot and sunny enough for my tomato plants to convert all of their flowers into actual tomatoes. It isn't a total loss. We have some tomatoes to eat.  I just wish I had more ripe tomatoes so I could try my hand at making and canning a couple of jars of tomato sauce.  Oh well, maybe next year.

In the meantime, I have to do something with these little beauties.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How to Oven Can and Preserve Dry Goods

 My very thoughtful Husband bought a bag of masa harina, (aff link) opened it and used it to make dinner shortly after I bought a new bag of masa harina, opened it, and used it to make dinner.


I popped a bay leaf in one of the open bags of masa to keep the bugs at bay and put it in the pantry. Well that takes care of one bag. Now I need to find a way to keep the other bag fresh and pest free for the long term.

 Pin this post to Pinterest for later! Share it with your friends!
Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post for your convenience.

Freezing flour or masa, isn’t a long term food storage option. My freezer burns everything anyway. 

You can't vacuum seal masa, flour, and other powdery dry goods because the fine powder gunks up the machine and hose so much it will not create an air tight seal.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

How to Keep Brown Sugar Soft and 3 Ways to Soften Rock Hard Brown Sugar

Depending upon his mood, Husband sweetens his coffee with either brown sugar or straight up molasses. We go through spells when the super dark molasses filled brown sugar he prefers sits in its bag in the pantry and loses moisture. The result? Rock hard brown sugar you have to hack with a spoon.

howtokeepbrownsugarfromdryingoutand3waystosoftenbrownsugar What's this and why can't I open it? You should pin Lisa's post for later!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Spicy Chickpea Snacks

 When I want a snack, crunchy and different trump everything else. So when Saffron Road asked me if I wanted to sample their Crunchy Chickpea snacks, I agreed faster than you can say wasabi.

Because they had me at wasabi.

I like wasabi.

A lot.

Saffron Road Crunchy Chickpeas are are all-natural, gluten-free, non-GMO verified, vegetarian, and certified Halal flavored chickpea snack made right here in the good ol' US of A. And boy, do these spicy nuggets good hit the spot when I want a salty snack!


Husband and I are also big fans of Indian food. All of the Crunchy Chickpea flavors are something we try to replicate to varying degrees of success in our own kitchen.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How to Make a Budget to Save Money with Your Trash Can

It is not new or shocking news that not wasting food saves money. But have you considered what other budget busters might be hiding in your trash can and recycling bin?


Here is a photo of four days of my household trash and a week and a half of recycling.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Eggplant Lasagna Recipe

One of our best couple friends had a sad and serious situation hit them from out of the blue. I did what any good Midwesterner would do.

I dropped everything I was doing and made them some food because this is what we do.

We make food.

I wanted to make something they could eat now if they felt like it or stick in the freezer if food was the furthest thing from their minds. I also kept in mind the family has an equal number of carnivores and vegetarians. Yes, they can coexist peacefully. Happily too.

Vegetable lasagna is the perfect choice. Meat free for the vegetarians but filling for the carnivores.  It tastes great now and even better later. It freezes well and reheats easily.

Cheesy Vegetable Lasagna Recipe 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

15 Clever Lunch Bags for Men and Boys

Husband often takes leftovers to work for his lunch.  I checked out the lunch bags in the Back to School section of several stores to buy him a proper lunch bag. I left every store disappointed because all of the cool looking lunch bags were for little boys. Where are the cool lunch bags for teens and men?

On the Internet, of course.

I found several fun lunch bags for teen boys and men while shopping for Husband. Since I'm only buying one, I figured I shouldn't let my research go to waste and wrote post for you on what I found.

15 unique lunch bags boxes and totes for boys teens men

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Lactose Free Chip with #GiantFlavor

When I was finally convinced I should give up lactose based foods, I wasn't prepared for just how many items contain milk, milk solids, whey, or lactic acid. The most surprising?

Flavored chips.

Of course the cheesy flavored chips are no brainer, but some of the so called plain flavors containing milk ingredients is surprising. It makes our small field of allowable trans-fat, hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup free salty snacks even smaller.

Yes, yes I know. I should give up chips entirely but sometimes a treat during Movie Night makes a good movie even better. 80/20 Rule, remember?

Sorry gang. No fancy dip recipes this time. I snarfed these bad boys straight from the bag.

Out of foodie curiosity, we took the opportunity to try two new flavors of Green Giant Veggie Snack Chips. Husband concentrated on the Garden Ranch Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips because it contains milk ingredients.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

11 Brands That Got it Right at Blogher13

The BlogHer Conference is different from your typical industry conference or trade show because of the diversity of, reasons why, and goals of the bloggers who attend the conference. Some want to work with brands, some don’t but want information on a consumer level. Some blog as a business or want to make it a business, others don’t. Some like the sampling and swag (= Stuff We All Get), some don’t.

BlogHer '13
I feel for any sponsor who is trying to be all things to such a diverse audience. I’ve been on your side of the table in Expo Hall. Isn’t always easy to try to be all things to all people, but when it works, it works well.

When I dust off my old marketing and PR hat and look at this year's conference sponsors with those eyes, the Blogher13 brands who impressed me the most where the brands who:
  •  Had people in their booths who could talk about the nuts and bolts of the product or direct me someone who could answer my questions if the person I was talking to could not instead of tell me it has cool features and leaving it at that. 
  • Were engaging and had a concise elevator pitch/demo that invited me to ask questions. Some demos were too involved and almost made me miss a scheduled event, others seemed more interested in handing out swag and sending me on my way (see above.)
  • Had an actual presence at the conference and ready to participate with all bloggers instead of being just a name on a banner, a strange unexplained item in the conference swag bag (that ended up in the swag exchange suite), or only available to a few bloggers at an official private event. This isn’t’ sour grapes on my part (I was invited to a private official sponsor event) but disappointment at not being able to start the getting to know you dance with a few who interested me personally and professionally. But hey, if you want to spend the big bucks to sponsor a conference full of media savvy women and waste the opportunity to actually meet and gave them information that is valuable in person then who I am to judge? It’s your money…

11 Great Engaging Sponsors at Blogher13 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

You are Wonderful and Have Nothing to Prove, Just Be YOU!

While you are reading this, I'm at from the biggest women's blogger conference there is - Blogher13 via the magic of working a head of time and prescheduling. Isn't technology wonderful?

Based on how exhausted I've been after past conferences learning everything I can to be a better blogger, networking to bring you new information, and meeting as many of you in real life as I possibly can, my brain is guaranteed to be Silly Putty by the Sunday drove home. The only thing I'll be able to communicate effectively for the next couple of days is, "Fire bad. Tree pretty."

And of course talk and write in nothing but hideously, long run-on sentences.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lavender Sugar Recipe

My secret to growing big, super huge lavender bushes is to cut the lavender buds when they bloomk as often as possible.

Since I don't want my fresh cut lavender to go to waste, I'm always on the hunt for things to make with lavender flowers. Besides feeling decant with a constant flow of fresh cut lavender flowers in the house, I like to cook and bake with lavender buds. Yes you can eat lavender!

The easiest way to cook with lavender is to make lavender infused sugar and use the lavender sugar in your favorite recipe. Lavender sugar adds a savory touch to my Scottish Shortbread and it looks like I spent big bucks and tons of time on something I already have on hand that I let sit until I remembered to use it.

How to Make Lavender Sugar

Monday, July 15, 2013

How to Make a Soda Pop Can Gift Tag

More often than I care to admit, I end up buying something because it is in an interesting bottle or container and I am more interested in repurposing the jar than eating the stuff in container.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this. It is kinda weird, I know.

That's how I ended up with this cool flip top pumpkin cider bottle (pumpkin spices mixed in apple juice) last fall. Sadly the drink wasn't all that but the empty bottles are worth keeping. I use one to hold olive oil from the bulk bottle in our pantry. The other bottle I put aside waiting for its special purpose.

Today is the day.

 I made homemade vanilla extract by crushing a vanilla bean, covering it in vodka, and letting it sit in a cool, dark place for several weeks as a lazy way frou frou foodie gift.  My vanilla extract is ready for gifting. It needs a fancy pants tag to dress up the bottle.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

16 Mason Jar Lid DIYs

I have a mason jar addiction. It started innocently enough. I had a cupboard full of empty mason jars after we ate the vegetables I canned from our tiny garden. The cupboard holding the empty canning jars in within arms reach of the kitchen counter while the cupboard holding the actual food storage containers is four steps to my left.

It was only a matter of time until my empty mason jar collection started to hold more than home canned food. Four steps to the left is a long row to hoe.

Canning jars also fill in for drinking glasses when we have a party. I hate buying one use disposable plastic cups! My guests think I'm being my quirky trendy self instead of being too cheap and too lazy to buy a bunch of reusable party cups and find a place to store them in my tiny house.