Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Frugal Files: Creative Cooking

Hey everybody!! It's The Frugalicious Diva and today in The Frugal Files, we're going to talk about Creative Cooking!!

When I was younger I despised even the idea of cooking, but my parents LOVE to cook!! In fact, I come from families that take great pride in their culinary skills. I can confidently say my Mom and aunts, maternal and paternal, are cooking and baking Divas!! Let’s not sleep on my Dad and the family men either, because they are the greatest fryers and bar-b-q-ers this side of the Mississippi.

Every family function is filled with delectable treats and concoctions from someone’s kitchen. Every potluck brings on unforgettable aromas that water your taste buds upon entrance. There is always a table covered in Aunt Tina’s famous 7 layer salad, macaroni and cheese and homemade ice cream, Aunt Gloria’s tasty fried chicken or Mom’s delicious dirty rice, 7UP cake or sweet potato pie.

I had to describe some of the vittles in order for you to get the idea, because with all that home cooking training, it is blasphemous for me to not want to follow in this rich tradition. But, it was true. I would have rather cleaned the toilet bowl than do anything with that oven.

Even though I disliked cooking, it didn’t mean I didn’t know how to do it. Since I’ve always been a people watcher, I know now that habit started right at home. For years, I observed my Mom make side dishes, cakes and pies, all from scratch. I marveled at how she was such an expert that she no longer had to measure the ingredients, how she knew the degrees each dish needed and how long it would take to cook. Side note ladies: don’t let men tell you they don’t cook. My parents shared the cooking, but my Dad has always (and still does) cooked breakfast.

So, although I did not enjoy it, cooking was buried in my soul. They were resurrected when I purchased my first home and got a kitchen of my own. I had to cook then, because my daughter and I had to eat. So, I asked for cookbooks for my housewarming and along with ordering Angel Food Ministries monthly, I learned that cooking is actually exciting. It is a joy for me to witness my daughter eat something new that I’ve created. With the variety of food in the AFM Signature Box, it was easy to create new recipes weekly for my family.

Now, my challenge for you other frugalicious divas and dons, is to create meals using what you already have at home. Many times we’ll purchase food from the store when we’ve depleted just a few. If you are not careful, you will find duplicates or items you did not know you had because you just kept buying more food. Take a 30-day grocery free challenge. Look through your cookbooks and online to aid you in finding recipes for what you have in your refrigerators and pantries.

Here are a few suggestions from my own personal challenges:
      Use the condiments in your refrigerator
-          When I may stir fry or fried rice, I use my soy sauce packets
-          In spaghetti or pastas, I add spice with hot sauce packets
-          Need ketchup? Use leftover fast food ketchup packets instead

      Pull out foods you hardly use and create a new dish
-          Instead of the same ol’ pasta, half it and make two dishes: a casserole and pasta salad
-          Have browning apples? Cut them up, add cinnamon and nutmeg and fry them in butter. You’ll have a great dessert.
-          Tired of cornbread, add bacon bits, jalapenos and cheese to the batter. Spicy bread for chili.

      When you don’t have it, improvise
-          Don’t have lemon, use another fruit instead. Create a new flavor.
-          No onions, use garlic or a crunchy veggies like celery or carrots
-          Add as many veggies to any dish you like. I now sprinkle my frozen vegetables in every dish I make. Great way to get in the veggies and use what’s in the house.

The next time you get bored with your kitchen, use a few of these tips and get some creative cooking going on at home!! You will rejuvenate your interest in cooking and your family will rave about your skills. Here’s to happy, creative cooking and finger licking good recipes!!

Frugalicious Diva

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