Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Tips from MY kitchen

 We all have our little tricks on doing things.  I love hearing what other people do.  I also like to save money and not go out shopping when I see I am out of something.
I like to be able to have options in my own kitchen.
We all do - it is whether we know about them or use them!
Here are a few of MY kitchen tricks!!!

NO bacon - and a recipe calls for it.  It depends on what the recipe is - but bacon grease is always in my frig, so I can use that.  I keep real bacon bits on hand all the time (great on pizza and in cheesy mac) for salads - so I can use them or I can use bits of ham.  Maybe use liquid smoke (it just takes just a bit to get flavor) or ham bouillon.  Heck you could even use Spam or canned ham.  Many options to replace bacon - no need to make a special grocery trip on an expensive ingredient.

NO tomato sauce - no problem.  You can use tomato juice, salsa, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, or tomato paste.  Most tomato products are pretty inter-changeable.

Need a filling treat for you or the young-ins?  Mix a half cup peanut butter with a couple tablespoons of honey and a dash of cinnamon.  Sure makes for a yummy sandwich.
Mom used to mix peanut butter with syrup and we would eat on bread or with crackers.  That was such a treat!

I don't care how old you are - Smores are a treat!  I do things a little different.  I made myself a couple goodies this past week!  Marshmallows can be heated on your gas stove (using a fork) and I use fudge striped cookies.  I get the gooey yum of marshmallow, chocolate and cookie.  YUM!   Easy, frugal and a great treat for any day of the week!

Marshmallows were less than a $1 per bag (I got around holidays) and the cookies were store brand and cost around $1.29.  YUM

OUT of bread crumbs?  Crush crackers and use - any type of crackers.  Cheesy crackers are super good in meat recipes.  You can also use oats.  I have even used crushed chips (you know the bottom of the bag).  You may need to adjust salt if using chips.
It is all good and adds a bit of variety.

Pancake syrup.  I have heated a 1/2 C water to almost boiling and then added 1 C honey.  Mix well and add in  a tsp. of vanilla.  Super tasty on pancakes or waffles.
There are many ways to make your own syrup using sugar or artificial sweetener as well.  The honey is a natural one!

Poor man's Swiss steak.  My Momma made this often when I was home and still do.  It is one of my favorites - and it is easy and frugal.
Make burgers and fry till almost done then top with a can of vegetable beef soup and simmer.  Serve with mashed potatoes.
Comfort food at it's best!
                     There is a burger under all that veggie 'gravy'!!!!!  So yummy.

So there you have a few of my kitchen tips.  Nothing I hate more than being out of something and thinking I need to make a run to the store.  I won't do it - no special trips here!!!!!  It will just go on the list for later.
I figure out a way to use something else or figure up some new and fun treat or meal.  I love putting unlikely things together and coming up with a tasty bite!

Have fun and eat well.  Stay frugal my friends!


  1. Gravy seems to happen around here only at holiday times so I always freeze the juices from the roasting pan. Great flavor booster for sauces and soups. If frying l lb of bacon might as well fry 2 and clean up one frying mess so there's often cooked bacon in the freezer for later use. A smoky BBQ lends a good flavor. The bottom of the BBQ/steak sauce or ketchup bottle gets rinsed out and put in soups, casseroles. If a suitable substitute isn't available I just omit. Avoiding waste drives my kitchen endeavors. I also derive a great deal of satisfaction from using up every last bit.

    1. Great ideas!!!!! Love broth and juices from roasts and eats too. I always use the bits and bobs from the bottom of bottles as well.
      I have been known to just omit something too!
      I have gotten to baking my bacon and I always do a bunch - keep the grease and one clean up. I freeze cooked bacon for another time. Sure is nice to have on hand.

  2. I like that idea about the swiss steak. And you can microwave smores too and it only takes a few seconds.

    1. The swiss steak is really tasty. It is always a comfort dish to me.
      I have tried that in the past as well. I like the char on my marshmallows!!!! LOL

  3. Yes, absolutely, to the crushed crackers in place of bread crumbs. And, if using bread crumbs as a filler (meatloaf, stuffed peppers, etc.), you can also substitute oatmeal.

    I don't regularly keep buttermilk on hand. But, if a recipe calls for it, I'll use the trick of adding some lemon juice or vinegar to regular milk and letting it sit, to make buttermilk.

    Pizza sauce is another thing that can easily be made by adding an Italian seasoning mix, or oregano and basil, along with some garlic powder, to tomato sauce (and a little tomato paste, if you like thicker sauce).

    Lots of easy substitutes, if you put your mind in creative mode. We've become so "addicted" to shortcuts and the marketing for always using "fresh" these days that we forget the simple things -- garlic powder can replace fresh crushed garlic; shred your own cheese rather than opening a bag; substitute pre-shredded cheese for slices in a heated / grilled sandwich; get creative by using leftovers to create a new pizza combination.

    Since I'm a household of one, when I make waffles, I'll finish off the mix, even though I won't eat it all. I freeze the leftover waffles and can then pop them in the toaster to reheat, and enjoy them another time.

    1. Great minds think alike. Being alone there are some things that is just hard to make a bit of. I make and freeze too for another day.
      I have used tomato sauce and added a few Italian herbs for pizza sauce and garlic powder.
      You are so right - we are used to everything being easy and ready. My Mom (and I bet yours) did everything from scratch as there weren't all these premade things.
      I make my own buttermilk too - have never purchased buttermilk!
      Thanks - love knowing so many have the same ideas.

  4. Such a great idea for smore's Plus probably not as messy. I have never seen ham bullion before.

    1. They are so good and you are right - not really messy at all.
      I love ham bouillon! It is a staple at my house. I use in beans of all sorts, rice, soups, you name it.

  5. Hi Cheryl,
    Love the tips you shared. I always try and keep a well stocked pantry but there's always something you need and don't have.. I love the idea of the swiss steak. Almost reminds me of Salisbury steak!

    1. Same here. BUT it seems there is always something we may nat have and it is nice to know we can sub.
      It sure is tasty!

  6. My friend eats peanut butter and syrup straight from the bowl. She said that was their treat growing up.

    Like the other poster I freeze the drippings to be used later, and any leftover gravy from those special meals is used when I get the soup stock going. It just adds a bit more flavour.

    God bless.

    1. LOL - I am sure we did the same thing at times. It sure is tasty!
      Yep, those drippings and goodies sure do add flavor.

  7. Great ideas, Cheryl; think I might try that Swiss Steak hack. Doncha love baking the bacon? It's so much easier and less messy. I also love your s'mores idea ;-p. The other day I made us our fav meatloaf. But, instead of bread crumbs or oats, I substituted cooked rice I had on hand. Wasn't bad. p.s. my super-secret tip for the best meatloaf around is to add 1/4 cup of dill pickle juice to about 1 lb. of ground beef in addition to whatever you like in yours (shhh, don't tell anyone ;) But, I don't use Worcestershire sauce when I use the pickle juice....they don't play nice together ;)

    1. Rice is a great idea. I have made porcupines - meatballs with uncooked quick rice added to them. They are tasty.
      I will have to try the pickle juice idea - that sounds particularly yummy to me. I save all my pickle juice (I drink it).
      Thanks for the tip and your secret is safe!!! LOL

  8. I never buy pizza sauce - as one commenter mentioned tomato with Italian seasonings works very well.

    When I buy a head of cauliflower, I know I won't be able to eat it all before it starts to get brown. So I cut it up, some goes in the fridge for salads and for nibbling on, the rest gets blanched and put in the freezer. Then I can pull a bag out and make a pot of cream of cauliflower soup.

    I might try to the burger trick - it sounds like something my son would enjoy.

    1. It is just so easy to season up sauce for pizza sauce.
      Good idea on cauliflower. I love it - but a head is a lot to use all at once.
      It is tasty - give it a try.

  9. If I do nothing else this week I am going to make us some smores using fudge striped cookies and marshmallows. How clever. Never thought to do that. I love me some smores. Thanks!

    1. They were so good and just hit the spot. You know some days you want something and just can't put your finger on what!

  10. We love to drizzle a little honey on our peanut butter, and I've even used maple syrup in a pinch as well. And while I agree that most tomato based sauces are interchangeable, I have a particular fondness for a particular brand of spaghetti sauce. And that was only reaffirmed when I could not get it for months during the pandemic. We are allowed a little luxury in the kitchen too, right?

    1. Absolutely - we all have to have our luxuries once in a while. Life would be pretty boring without them now and then!!!!
      I can't remember the last time I bought spaghetti sauce - I have made my own for so many years.
      Indulge and enjoy!

  11. Gotta think outside the box (or pantry) when preparing meals. These are all good ideas! I keep tomato puree in the pantry as it is a thicker product than sauce. Makes a dandy sauce with the proper seasonings and even minced veg. Rural King carries Hunter Honey Farm products, which are produced in Martinsville. That's a whole lot closer than driving down there. We went one time and I was sure we had crossed the state line into Kentucky. ha! Honey is one thing we are careful about buying. Local is best and a pure honey product, nothing cut with high fructose corn syrup. Miss Susanne is right: a little luxury in the kitchen is allowed.

    Can you believe all the white stuff on the ground this morning?! I told Jim O'Brien on Instagram that this really wasn't necessary. We covered as much as we could. My old-fashioned lilac doesn't look good. It is starting to melt off the plants and the fence. We had snow one year in May and the folks camping at the track just about froze. Indiana weather...ya gotta love it.

    1. I always get local honey as well. It is also good if you have allergies as it does contain local pollen which helps in allergy symptoms - builds up immunity so to speak.
      Pure homey is the only way to go. It will out live us!!

      Yes the white stuff is not funny at all!!! UGH
      I covered stuff - but only time will tell. Cold again tonight too.