Thursday 31 August 2017

Lamb Shanks In Tomato and Vegetable Gravy

Recently lamb shanks were on sale at Tasman Butchers for $5.99 a pack of two.  As a family we've never been able to afford then in our grocery budget.  While they are still an expensive luxury meal for us,  at this great price we can afford to have them a few times a year.

Here's my recipe for a mouth watering tasty meal -

4 lamb shanks
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks of celery - diced
2 teaspoons of dried onion flakes or 1 fresh onion diced 
1 teaspoon of garlic powder or 1 clove of garlic crushed
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
600g ( 1 1/2 cans ) of diced tomatoes
300 mls of water
1 1/2 tablespoons of beef stock powder
sprigs of  rosemary
mashed potato and cooked green beans, to serve
1 tablespoon of cornflour ( optional )

Preheat the oven to,160°C.
Dust the shanks lightly with flour. I used a bread bag to do this.
Heat the oil in a large frypan. Brown the shanks for 3-4 minutes each side,. Set aside in a large casserole / lasagne dish.
Saute the carrots, onion celery, garlic and paprika in same pan for 4-5 minutes. Place these ingredients over the shanks.
Add  the tomatoes, , stock powder ( mixed with water ) and rosemary to the large casserole / lasagne dish.
Bake, covered for 3 hours.
Thicken the tomato sauce with cornflour dissolved in a little water if needed 
Serve on a bed of mashed potato with green beans
Serves 4

Dinner is served

I kept the shanks hot in the oven while I thickened the gravy

This recipe can be adapted to use a slow cooker.  I did my lamb shanks in the oven because I don't have a large enough slow cooker for 4 lamb shanks

Saturday 26 August 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 26th August 2017

My week never seems to be boring when I keep busy.  With a home to manage,  garden to tend to,  family to take to work,  my own cleaning jobs,  crafts to make and blog posts to write.  No wonder the tv rarely goes on during the day.  Here's what I've been up to this week -

*  Picked the last of the lemons off our tree.

*  Darren gratefully received another 3 avocados.  They have been a double blessing.  We don't usually buy them because of their price.  Darren has been using them instead of butter on toast.  With butter prices skyrocketing,  you can understand why we see them as a double blessing.

* Fed the worms with kitchen scraps.

*  Line dried the washing two days this week.  We are thankful for the Sun revealing it's beautiful rays to help us.

*  Sold lots of cards and crafts in my blog shop.  It's been quite a busy week with sales and replenishing new stock.  I try to have new stock each week to keep things fresh.  Please come on over and take a look.

*  Decluttered a couple of bags of items and donated them to Savers.  I received a discount stamp for the donation.

*  Sold one dozen eggs.

*  Fed the compost bins with grass and kitchen scraps.

*  Made chicken stock with a carcass Jessica gave me. I then went on to make chunky chicken and veg soup.

*  Made a batch of scones for a morning tea.  I had a visit from a couple of Etsy Crafty Mum ladies on Tuesday.  We spent a lovely day making cards and crafts with some time eating and drinking tea.  The rest of the scones went into the freezer.

*  Refilled the kitchen detergent ump bottle and dilute the liquid.

*  Gratefully received a few sheets of glitter card stock.

Our feathered girls

First signs of Spring

Under the pergola

Latest cards for sale in my blog shop.


What was on your frugal list this week ?

Thursday 24 August 2017

ANZAC Biscuits

As a newlywed Anzac biscuits was the first  home baking I attempted and mastered.  Darren and I have always enjoyed these biscuits but my memory of Anzacs goes back even further.  As a thirteen year old in a high school Home Economics class,  I baked a similar version.  The teacher scored our ANZAC slice on color and neatness and I came out top of the class with a 10 out of 10.

The Australian history of Anzacs dates back to  World War 1.  Although it is unlikely these biscuits were sent to the front lines for the soldiers to eat,  they were commonly eaten at galas,  fetes and other public events.  This is where they were sold to raise money to support the war effort.

1 cup of rolled oats
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of plain flour
1/2 cup of desiccated coconut

125 g of butter
2 tablespoons of honey
1 tablespoon of water
1/2 teaspoon of bi carb of soda

Combine oats,  flour,  sugar and coconut in a large bowl ( or a stand mixer ).
Place the butter,  honey and water into a glass jug and microwave on high for one minute until the butter has melted.
Add the bi carb of soda and stir until well combined. Add this to the dry mixture and combine well.
Place rounded teaspoons of mixture onto a greased baking tray and flatten with your fingers
Bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes until golden
Lift from the trays when cool

Makes approximately 36 biscuits


*  I quite often double this mixture and freeze some dough for future baking.

*  The biscuits keep quite well in an airtight container for up to two weeks.  They will last longer but loose their freshness.

*  For chewy biscuits cook for 15 - 18 minutes.

*  A durable biscuit for travelling.

Saturday 19 August 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 19th August 2017

As I'm writing this post,  Melbourne has dipped into a Winter freeze again.  We are finding comfort in hot home cooked comfort food and warm blankets.  Here's our frugal list for the week -

*  Found a much cheaper supplier of padded envelopes on Ebay.  I use these to send my shop orders to customers.

*  Baked four loaves of wholemeal bread with extra goodness.

*  Kept the heater off when possible or lowered the temperature

*  Saved the washing machine water for each next load.

*  Juiced more lemons from our tree.

*  Megan did a big cook up of work lunches. She made 18 plus serves.  I'm very proud of her for saving money..

* Went to a garage sale of retired Stampin Up supplies.  I was able to purchase 8 ink pads,  5 shape punches and a few stamp sets at a fraction of their retail value.  I'd been saving my pocket money for quite a few months in anticipation of this sale.

*  Sold a few more cards in my blog shop.  Thankyou for the orders.  I now have new stock and some crafts for sale with more stock to follow shortly.

*  Froze lots of single serves of curried sausage casserole.  The joys of grown children not always being home for dinner.

*  Froze the last portion of tomato paste into ice cube trays

*  Did my monthly shop and stuck to the list.  Butter has once AGAIN increased in price so I only bought 2 x 500 gram blocks instead of the usual 5 or 6.  I'll be writing a blog post about this topic shortly.

*  Darren picked a few silverbeet leaves from our garden to be used in two meals.

*  Froze lots of single portions of lamb casserole.

*  Bought lots of Avon eyeliners at a bargain price.

*  Diluted a bottle of white vinegar 50 / 50 with water.

*  Found and bought two 5kg bags of washed potatoes for $2 a bag.  I haven't seen potatoes this cheap for many, many months.
Salmon patties and salad for lunch

Bread making

Apple Sponge Dessert

Magnetic Peg Clips for sale in my blog shop.

How did you save time,  money and energy this week ?

Thursday 17 August 2017

Make Your Own Bath Bombs

Making your own bath bombs is quite easy.  Once you've had a go you'll be making all sort of bath bombs to give as presents.  Here's the recipe Jessica and I used recently -  

I cup of bi carb of soda ( baking soda )
1/2 cup of citric acid
1/2 cup of Epsom salts
1/2 cup of corn flour

1 teaspoon of water
2 teaspoons of essential oil
4 teaspoons of olive oil
3 - 4  drops of food coloring

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl with a whisk

In a small glass bowl or jar mix all the wet ingredients together

Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ones mixing / whisking constantly as you go. Don't add too much of the wet ingredients or it will foam up.

Press the mixture into bath bomb moulds or silicon baking moulds.

Dry overnight or put into a warm oven for 45 minutes.  The oven temperature needs to be as low as you can get.

Gently unmould when cold and hard.

Saturday 12 August 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 12th August 2017

Baking,  cooking,  crafting and general frugalness has filled this week.  I've also been busy writing up some blog posts for future reading.  Stay tuned for Thursday's post.  You'll love it.

Here's my frugal list for the week -

*  Used lots of bread bags to line the bathroom bins.

*  Made and sold two lemon slices for a catering order.

*  Sold one dozen eggs.

*  Made sweetened condensed milk from scratch.  I froze some to make choc truffles later on.

*  Filled up my car with petrol using a discount docket.  It was $1.01 per litre at the discounted price.

*  Darren transferred another $10 worth of Flybys points onto our card.  We are saving the money to buy groceries on our next family holiday.

*  Fed some stale bread and grass to the chickens.

*  Sold a few more cards in my Blog Shop.  Thankyou to the customers for your support.

*  Made bubble and squeak to use up some leftovers in the fridge.

*  Kept the heater off for hours at a time when the Sun was shining.

*  Darren and I had a date night at home on /Wednesday.  We watched a dvd from our collection and ate snacks from the pantry.

*  Gratefully received the magnet strips from an old fridge door.  This will be used in crafts.

*  Our latest water bill reflects our continued reduction in water usage.  Unfortunately it doesn't quite cover the cost increases but it has helped.

New card in my blog shop

Coffee cup gift card holder

Lemon slice

Home grown eggs

Daisy bush has come back to life after a heavy pruning

What does your frugal list look like this week ?

Thursday 10 August 2017

Stretching Meals To Go Further

Keeping the cost of groceries down can be a never ending battle. Prices are always on the increase, appetites increase, food is bought then wasted and adult children don't always show up for dinner. Unexpected visitors can send you into a tail spin ( or at least another trip to the supermarket )

Here are some of the tricks I use to keep my family fed for well under $300 a month and still put good food on the table -

* Spag bol is often served with shredded silverbeet from the garden and grated carrot and zucchini in the meat sauce. I've also been known to add half a handful of quick oats to the sauce. These " extras " increase the volume of meat sauce. I don't serve larger quantities because of this. The extra sauce is frozen and might serve two people for another meal.

* Two minute noodles as well as cabbage really bulk up chop suey.

* Meat is the most expensive component of a meal. Loading up the dinner plate with veggies will fill up hungry tummies. A much cheaper alternative to serving large portions of meat.

* When dishing out the main meal, serve out the leftovers at the same time into takeaway containers or other suitable freezer containers. When you are eating dinner, let those leftovers cool until the steam disappears. Put them straight in the fridge after dinner until completely cold. Put a lid on, label and freeze ASAP. You save more money if the leftovers are eaten at dinner instead of a lunch treat. When you have enough frozen leftovers, write " freezer meals " into the menu plan. A free meal.

* When adult children don't show up for dinner, cook as you usually do and freeze the leftovers.

* If the main meal looks a little on the frugal side, put a plate of buttered bread or toast on the table.

*  Stews and casseroles need less meat per person.   My chicken curry recipe uses two small chicken fillets yet serves up to eight people.

 * When I make chunky soups, I add 1/2 to 1 cup of small shell pasta 20 minutes before serving.

* Add mashed potato to salmon patties. You'll get more patties without changing the flavour.

*  When you come home from grocery shopping portion out the raw meat and freeze in meal sizes. This is a really frugal tip and easier to defrost instead of a whole tray of meat.

*  When cooking casseroles and stews,  cut the meat into smaller cubes.  The meat seems to go further and you are more likely to get a piece of meat with each mouthful.

Have you stretched food without your family noticing ?

What are your tricks for making food go further ?

Loading the plate with veggies

Adding silverbeet to a pasta bake

Chicken curry with two small chicken fillets

Chop suey with lots of veggies

Freezing leftovers

Saturday 5 August 2017

This Week's Frugal Tasks Saturday 5th August 2017

This week I've been quite busy making greeting cards to sell in my blog shop and Etsy shop.  The hours just disappear when I'm crafting.  I still managed to get all the housework done with some help from Darren,  a little baking as well as my paid work - cleaning homes.  Here's what else we got up to this week -

*  Darren gratefully received three more avocados from a friend.

*  Redeemed a Good Guys voucher for $20 and bought a few items for my kitchen.  I'll be getting one of these vouchers every 3 months for the next three years.  This is an added bonus for paying for an extended warranty on our new fridge.  You could say we are getting the warranty for free.

*  Juiced and froze a couple of bags of lemons.  I also picked more from our tree.  I like to sit them in a bowl for a week.  It seems to relax the flesh and I get more juice from them.

* Mended a pair of socks.

*  Darren picked a few silverbeet leaves from the garden when we realised we'd run out of frozen beans.

*  Froze four single serves of leftovers.

*  Fed the compost bins with veggie peelings.

*  Made a big pot of chunky chicken soup from two chicken carcass I had in the freezer.  These were from a catering job I helped at in May last year.  I think I've now used the last of the fifteen carcasses.

Cleaned the kettle with citric acid and the dishwasher using bi carb,  vinegar and Miracle Spray.

*  Used the dry mop on the bamboo floors instead of getting the vacuum cleaner out.

*  Dried a few loads of washing on the line,  a few on clothes horses and a couple of items went into the dryer.

*  Refilled the foaming hand wash pumps with diluted shower gel.

*  Sold one of my handmade cards in my blog shop.

*  Bought three men's toiletry packs on clearance in Kmart for $2 each.  Such a bargain and they smell great too.  These will make great presents and I'll team them up with a block of chocolate.

*  Baked peanut butter choc chip biscuits using dough from the freezer.

* Cooked all meals from scratch.  Ate a few freezer meals.

*  Jessica and I made bath bombs for the first time.  We were doing a trial run for a Bella Pamper Party we are holding today for a 13 year old.  They were so easy to make.  I think bath bombs might be on the Christmas present list this year.

Peanut butter choc chip biscuits

Handmade bath bombs

Bargain $2 toiletry packs

Chunky chicken soup

From our Bella Pamper Party last Saturday

What was on your frugal list this week ?

Thursday 3 August 2017

It's Citrus Season

At this time of the year, citrus fruit is in abundance and it's cheap. Here are some ideas to make the most of these fruits and to continue the money savings all year round.

* Eating oranges / mandarins it in the usual way for snacks.

* Cutting up oranges and freezing them for icy cold Summer snacks.

* Making 50 / 50 cordial. To have this yummy cordial all year round, zest and squeeze 3 oranges and 3 lemons per batch of cordial. Place the contents into a container or zip lock bag and freeze.

* Blitz a whole orange in a food processor to make whole orange cake. Blitz a few extra oranges, portion and freeze to make this yummy cake whenever you feel like a baking treat.

* Zest and juice lemons for lemon slice. Zest can be frozen in a container for up to a year. Alternatively freeze the zest in ice cube trays.

* Juice the lemons and freeze into ice cubes Then pop them out into containers for future baking / cooking.

* Use lemon juice to make lemon butter.  This is so yummy on toast and in tarts.  It's very quick and easy to make in the microwave and keeps for up to three weeks in the fridge.

Lemon chicken is quick and easy to make using lemon slices,  juice and seasonings.

*  Use the juice of a couple of lemons in jam making.

Other uses for lemon juice are -  lemon and pistachio biscuits, on pancakes, in  chicken flan, on fish and salmon patties or as a dressing on salads.

It's great to have these items on hand in the freezer. It stops the need to run to the supermarket for one lemon. I'll bet it would be out of season and you'd be paying premium prices.

If you haven't thought about it before, growing a lemon tree is great. It looks good, the blossoms and fruit smell divine and a bowl of lemons on the kitchen bench is a little ray of sunshine in the middle of Winter. It can be grown in a pot too. Best of all, you'll get your money back from the cost of a tree in no time.

So if anyone offers you a bag of lemons / oranges, or your neighbour has a tree with too much fruit for them to use, you'll know what to do with it.

Freshly picked lemons

Our tree

Lemon butter

Lemon slice

Whole orange cake

50 / 50 cordial

Lemon chicken
If you click on the purple writing it will  take you to the recipe on my blog.

How do you make the most of citrus fruit ?