Baked-in Beefburger

In between efforts to plink away at the squirrels in our backyard,tracking deer, a knifefight with an aggressive raccoon, and his regular school work, my 13 year old son made this for supper on Thursday. It takes a long time to fix, so he did it in two parts.

Essentially, it’s a kind of meatloaf wrapped in a biscuity crust.  He mixed up the dough in the morning and left it, covered, in the mixer until time to add the meat filling.  Since the biscuit crust also has tomato sauce, I figured the acid in the tomatoes makes for soaked wheat, addressing the phytic acids problem (if in fact it is a problem).  I have no evidence for this, I just figured it might, and it helped him get dinner done in two parts.=)

Combine in mixing bowl:
4 cups flour (we used freshly ground whole wheat)
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon each salt, sage, majoram (I’d cut back on the salt)
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup oil or melted butter or coconut oil
1 and 1/2 cups tomato sauce (we didn’t have this, so we took a can of crushed tomatoes, ran it through the blender and then added some extra flour to make up for the more liquid texture).
Milk for brushing dough (optional)
celery seed if desired

Mix all this, knead lightly, and let it rest until you are ready for it.  Cover it if will be a few hours.

2-2 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (ours is grassfed beef from our own cows)
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 cup soda cracker crumbs (we used oyster crackers. I’m not really sure how necessary this is.  Grass fed beef, at least ours, is very lean)
2 eggs
4 tablespoons dried, minced onion
1/2 cup tomato sauce

The recipe did not call for cheese, but we all agree there should be some, either in the meat or the bread. Or both.=)

Combine the filling mixture, mixing well.

Roll the dough out into two large rectangles.  Spread with filling to within 1/2 inch of the ends.  Roll like a pinwheel

(I didn’t supervise this part, and my son essentially just made one giant sausage roll instead of a pinwheel, and he made numerous smaller rolls rather than two large ones.).

Put seam side down on a cookie sheet (greased)
Slash tops with knife
Brush with milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.

Bake an hour at 350 degrees.  Let set ten minutes.  Slice and serve.

We had it with pineapple on the side, which was really a nice flavor.  We also had cauliflower. Salad would have been better, but this is what we had.=)

It was really good- except that it needs cheese. I think I’ll have him make it next Thursday, too, only with cheese.  He’ll make the pinwheels, too, because the pinwheel shape would balance the meat and bread shape..

This serves a dozen healthy appetites with enough for leftovers the next day.  I also think it would probably freeze well and take to reheating very well.

Linked at:

Hunk of Meat Mondays
Dining with Debbie
Real Food Wednesday

The Common Room, our regular blog has been nominated in the Homeschool Blog Awards in the following categories, and we won Best Variety!
Best Homeschool Variety
Best Current Events and Opinions
Best Family or Group Blog


Posted in frugal, meat, OAMC | Leave a comment

Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad

Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad
This is from Sugar Bust for Life!, and this recipe was delicious. I like it better than potato salad.
For 4 servings:
1 bunch each:

(?) Scallions, however many you like.

Break into florets or dice as required (we didn’t have scallions and used green onions. Leeks would also be tasty)

Combine with:
1 1/2 cups of mayo (we used home-made)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Refrigerate for a couple hours and then serve.


Vegetable Medley
from Dr. Atkins’ Quick and Easy New Diet Cookbook

for four servings:

2 tablespoons oil
1 finely chopped small onion
1 diced pepper
1 cup of diced zucchini
1/2 cup diced cucumber (peel, slice, seed)
1/4 cup of chicken broth
1 clove minced garlic (or more)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium to hot. Add the vegetables and stir occasionally for about five minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, then simmer for about ten minutes.
Per serving:
4.5 carbs, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram protein, 82 calories of deliciousness.

Posted in low-carb, salad, side dish | Leave a comment

Lemon Love Notes

Lemon Love Notes
This dessert doesn’t take long to make, and it’s a big hit with lemon-lovers.  If you leave out the grated lemon peel, even non-lemon lovers think it’s acceptable, but I’d rather let them eat something else and I’ll have the dessert with the full bodied zesty deliciousness of lemon.

It’s basically a shortbread crust with a yummy lemon custard topping that makes its own very, very delicate, thin, crinkly top crust.

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sifted flour
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons additional flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 beaten eggs
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 teaspoons of grated lemon peel.* You can do without this, but it tastes much more lemony with it.

Blend together the butter, one cup of flour, and the powdered sugar. Press firmly into an ungreased square cake pan. I grease a coffee cup and use that to press down hard (the side of a coffee cup works very well). Bake this at 350 for 8-10 minutes- just until golden. Cool

Mix sugar, 2 tablespoons of flour, and baking powder. Add the the remaining ingredients and blend well. Pour this over the baked mixture in the cake pan and return it all to the oven for 25 minutes (same temp). The top will get a bit puffy and golden while baking, but it will fall and get nicely crinkly when it cools.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into squares. This makes 16, which is hardly enough.

* For the zest of any citrus fruit I save the peels in the freezer. Then I use my vegetable peeler on it while still frozen and scrape off thin bits of peel. You can also use your vegetable peeler to peel long, thin strips, then cut them up with tiny snips of your kitchen shears, or any clean pair of scissors.

(I keep them in the freezer because if you are using a vegetable peeler it works better on frozen rinds)

Linked at Busy Bakes
Linked at Simply Delish

The Common Room, our regular blog has been nominated in the Homeschool Blog Awards in the following categories:
Best Homeschool Variety
Best Current Events and Opinions
Best Family or Group Blog

Voting ends midnight, November 18th.

Posted in dessert | 5 Responses

Home School Blog Awards

It’s that time of year again, when the hardworking, tireless volunteers at the Homeschool Blog Awards set themselves up for numerous complaints about how they are going about this all wrong.;-D

They have accepted and tallied the nominees for the categories, checked to make sure the blogs nominated meet the requirements, (like being family friendly), and now you can vote on the winners.

It may be obligatory and cliched  to say all of us are winners, and it’s an honor just to be nominated, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

There are 20 categories and over a thousand nominees.

Although we have done our part to be part of the community of complainers to our thankless volunteers (because we hate not to fit in with the crowd) and asked them change it to the name our users know us best by, our regular blog is listed as Heartkeeper Common Room in the following categories:

Best Homeschool Variety
Best Current Events and Opinions
Best Family or Group Blog

Which is pretty nifty and puts a smile on my face.  Yes, since I am sure I just heard you ask, you can vote for us in all three categories. We just can’t win in all three categories.  In the event that a blogger wins in more than one category, the hardworking moms will award the prizes (because there are prizes) to a runner up.  There’s probably a way they determine which of the surplus categories goes to a runner-up, and they probably even explained it quite clearly somewhere on their page which I was too distracted (did I mention, THREE categories?),  but I am not going to worry my uncombed head about it.

One vote per person in the household per category, up to five. So conceivably, I could vote for the Cherub by proxy. I am sure she likes me best, after all, and if she doesn’t, I can just promise her cookies and then she will.

Nevermind.  The point I wanted to make is that quite often that’s not how the cookies work, and we’ve never been able to have all the qualifying people in our household vote anyway. Cookies crumble and all that.

Anyhoo, that’s a lot of categories, and you don’t have a lot of time.

Voting ends at midnight on November 18th, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time (PST)

There’s a lot of great blogs there, and quite a few I’ve never read, so I’ll see you over there.=)

  Yes, yes, it can be said that it’s ‘just a popularity contest,’ and, in fact, it usually is said and I am often left scratching my head and thinking “yes?  And a couch is just a couch.  What else can it be but a popularity contest?”

So we’re shallow like that.

So do vote for us, there’s a dear.=)

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Pumpkin ‘muffins’

I copied this recipe from somewhere on line and forgot to make a note of the location. It makes a moist, chewy, dense muffin that really hits the spot, in my opinion. I had mine with a teaspoon of cream-cheese. These also make a great breakfast.

Two versions- first, the low-carb, Atkins induction friendly, but still not very healthy version because it relies heavily on fake foods. I include it here because this was the recipe I adapted to make the healthy muffins below. Scroll down if reading about fake foods might cause you to spike your blood pressure:

Pumpkin “muffins”

1/2 cup pumpkin
4 eggs
4 tablespoons flax seeds
1 scoop whey protein powder- or a scoop of Atkins Vanilla Shake mix.
1/4 cup Splenda
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
dash salt

Pour (or spoon) into six muffin cups. They’ll only be half full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

For Low carbers: one muffin should have about 3.2 net carbs and 6 grams of protein, less than 4 grams of fat.

Healthy version without whey protein powder or splenda and using only REAL foods:

Whole Foods, WF, GF, High Protein Pumpkin Muffins

1/2 cup pumpkin (we scoop out seeds and threads, simmering, salting, and roasting the seeds for snacks. Then we bake organic pumpkin in the oven until soft, then scoop out the pulp and freeze it for use any time)
4 eggs (you know local backyard eggs are best)
4 tablespoons flax seeds (I used Chia seeds because I wanted to try them out)
4 Tablespoons nuts any variety (depending on which level of low-carbing it you’ve reached), OR sunflower seeds, OR pumpkin seeds (pepitas), ground in a coffee mill.
1-2 droppers full of Liquid Orange Stevia (the batter will taste sweeter than the muffins, so you’ll have to fiddle with this a bit) according to your taste preferences, or just a pinch or two of powdered stevia leaf. Or, if you don’t care about the carbs, a splash of honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice)
dash salt (optional)

Grind nuts and flax seeds in a Coffee and Spice grinder (the chia seeds don’t need grinding)
– if you’re serious about low-carbing it, you know that macadamia nuts are the best because they are highest in fats and lowest in net carbs.  But if you are serious about frugality, you know that these are outrageously expensive these days.  I have found that you can get bags of broken up macadamia nuts in the baking section for less than other forms of macadamia nuts, but every other nut in the world is still cheaper.

Whisk all ingredients together in a measuring cup or small bowl.  Spoon into greased miniature muffin cups, bake at 350 for 13 minutes.
I had a heavy hand with the ginger, and I wish I’d had a heavier hand with the cinnamon.
This makes 24 miniature muffins.  1/2 cup of pumpkin only has about 8 carbs, so an entire pan of these things, well, you do the math.=)

Which nut you use will cause variations in the flavor.  My macadamia nuts weren’t ground very fine, so the muffins had quite a lot of texture.  I am enjoying mine very much, but frankly, I don’t think you’re kids will be thrilled with these the first day you put them on a GAPS or WF, GF diet.  They are good, but they are good for their own sake.  The more muffiny you want them, the finer you should grind the nuts (and I would grind the flax seeds, too.  Chia seeds are already very fine).

As I said above, if you’re not concerned about the carbs, use a tablespoon of honey, molasses, or maple syrup for sweetener.

GF= Gluten-free

Linked at Faith and Family
And Rad Recipe Roundup
Simple Lives Thursdays

The Common Room, our regular blog has been nominated in the Homeschool Blog Awards in the following categories:
Best Homeschool Variety
Best Current Events and Opinions
Best Family or Group Blog

Voting ends midnight, November 18th.

Posted in GF, low-carb | 2 Responses

Risotto with Butternut Squash

with butternut squash

1 medium butternut squash (1. 5 pounds) peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
1 T. olive oil
18 sage leaves, 12 left whole, 6 finely shredded.
1/2 t. salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
7 cups vegetable broth or water (could use tea ready hot water tap?)
3 T unsalted butter
1 T. olive oil
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan

heat ovent to 350
toss squash pieces with 1
T. oil, put in baking pan with 12 whole sage leaves, season with salt and pepper, roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally until tender and just browning at edges.
Remove, reserve, toss burnt sage leaves

Bring water or broth to simmer, keep at bare simmer

in heavy 4 quart casserole heat 2 T. butter and oil over medium heat, add onion and shredded sage leaves and cook, stirring for 2 minutes until the onion softens, add rice and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon for aobut 2 minutes until rice is well coated.  When grains are translucent, add wine and cook until liquid is absorbed.

Add 1 cup hot broth, stir until absorbed, add 1/2 cup liquid at a time, stirring unitl each is almost absorbed.  AFter 15 minutes stir in the roasted squash and contiue adding broth and stirring for another 3-5 minutes.  Stir in last 1/4 cup of broth, turn off heat, add basil, butter, and parmesan, stir well, serve immediately.

The One-Dish Vegetarian: 100 Recipes for Quick and Easy Vegetarian Meals

Linked at My Meatless Mondays

Posted in frugal, grains, vegetarian | 1 Response

Frugal OJ for Cooking

I do not generally buy juice for drinking.  We drink water, milk, tea, and coffee (and I fight off an unfortunate carbonated beverage addiction with occasional Zevias, which I fund by selling them to my son for twice the going rate).

But sometimes a recipe calls for OJ, like this one for Mole Sauce, or this delicious pound cake.

I buy frozen OJ concentrate and keep the concentrate in the freezer. If I need one cup of OJ, I scoop out a little less than 1/4 a cup of the concentrate and mix it up with 3/4 cup of water to make the full cup.  Sometimes I mix it by spoonfuls I need so little. This way, the frozen concentrate lasts almost a month as I eke it out in recipes calling for OJ.

Posted in frugal, Kitchen Tips | Leave a comment

Rosemary Pork Chops

Rosemary Orange Pork Chops
This is based on a recipe from Dr. Atkins’ Quick & Easy New Diet Cookbook: Companion to Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution

We seasoned pork chops with salt and pepper, then dusted them with Atkins All Purpose Bake Mix
(I’d prefer almond flour or ground pork rinds).

IN a shallow pan we melted 4 tablespoons butter, added some diced onion, cooked until soft, then added 2/3 cup white wine, a teaspoon worcestershire sauce, a tablespoon grated orange peel, 2 teaspoons of mustard, and a teaspoon rosemary. We simmered this a bit and soaked the pork chops in it, then grilled them outside on the grill.

Should have about 5 grams of carbs, mostly from the wine and I’m not sure it even counts since the chops were grilled (the Atkins book suggests simmering it all in a pan).

Linked up at What’s Cooking Thursday

The Common Room, our regular blog has been nominated in the Homeschool Blog Awards in the following categories:
Best Homeschool Variety
Best Current Events and Opinions
Best Family or Group Blog

Voting ends midnight, November 18th.

Posted in low-carb, meat | Leave a comment

Quinoa and Potato Salad

Quinoa potato sald

2 pounds fingerling potatoes
1/4 cup rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar with 1/2 t. sugar
1/4 cup white wine
1T olive oil
2 T white miso
1 T dijon mustard
1/2 cup chopped shallots
2 cups cooked quinoa
3/4 cup chopped dill pickles
2 celery ribs, diced
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup dill, fresh, minced
salt, pepper

Serve warm

The One-Dish Vegetarian: 100 Recipes for Quick and Easy Vegetarian Meals


Substitute onions or leeks for the shallots
Substitute sunchokes for the potatoes for a low carb version

Posted in salad, vegetarian | Leave a comment

Food Stamp Challenge Meal Ideas, 2

Last week I chose to share recipe and cooking ideas matched up to the sales flier for a grocery store in the W. Virginia area– a Kroger’s, I think.  This week I chose Food Lion in the Maryland area- again, I mainly chose this area because I am assuming it’s more expensive.
According to the online flier, today is the last day for these prices:
Sliced cheeses are 5.00 a pound.
Apples – 3.00 for a 3# bag
Sweet potatoes- .79 pound
Carrots- 3.00, five pounds
Onions, .75 pound
2.5 pounds boneless chicken breasts, BOGO- but I don’t know what the regular price is.
Mayo- 2 jars, 6.00 (it’s 2 jars for 7.00 starting tomorrow)
1.99 pound, bone in blade chops
2.49 pound for the ground beef chubs

However, Food Lion, it turns out, has a dandy feature where you can get a preview of next week’s prices, which start tomorrow.  Here’s what I would get:
Grated Sargento cheese- 2 8 ounce packages for 4.00, if you can swing extra, get it and freeze it.  I am assuming that this is a good price for the D.C. area, here, I watch for closer to 3.00 a pound.
10 pounds of potatoes, 4.00
Apples, a different variety, same price, approximately 3.00 for a 3 pound bag
Oranges are 4.00 for a 4 pound bag
Celery is 1.79 a pound
Limes are 5/1.00
Onions, 2 dollars for a 3 pound bag
Perdue Roasting chicken, 1.29 pound

If you use Food Lion, check out the price of their Holly Farms chicken breasts (boneless)- it’s BOGO today, but it’s 1.99 a pound tomorrow, and not knowing the regular price, I don’t know if that’s a good deal or not.

Things you should have for filling out meals and snacks (not necessarily all of them at once, gradually build up your stores):
Dried beans (not canned, dried, and this is why), lentils, and brown rice
Dried fruit for sweetening (coconut, raisins, dates, whatever you can afford)
Oatmeal from the bulk section of a store, not from the cardboard carton because you do not need to pay 3-5 dollars for the cardboard carton. It’s just not that cute.
Grow your own sprouts with lentils and mung or hmong beans.
Flour, unless you’re opposed to grains, or at least, unsoaked grains.
Some frozen vegetables (not corn, it’s not all that nutritious)
Fats- my preferences are butter, coconut oil, fat skimmed off the top of meat I cook at home and saved in the fridge, lard, or beef tallow, but…. you get what you can afford.
Baking soda/powder
Herbs and spices (get them from ethnic stores or find a local co-op and share)

Here are some ways to use the above grocery items:
Fried apples and onions with a smattering of cheese- this was a favorite lunch of ours for years when our five oldest girls were young.  We picked it up doing a ‘pioneer meal’ with our school studies one year, and we loved it.  Dice the onions, fry until golden, dice and add apples, cook until the softness you prefer, sprinkle a bit of cheese over all, serve.  REally, really good when the apples and onions are cooked in bacon fat.

Salads can be simply diced apples, mayo, and chopped celery with and green leaves or home-grown sproutsRainbow saladturnip slaw (they are a seasonable food and inexpensive in the winter) or carrot-raisin salad.
Or make a fruit salad- grapes are also on sale for 1.29 a pound, so have diced apples, grapes, oranges, and squeeze some juice from the orange and a lime over it all to keep fruit from browning.

With the fruit: salads, between meal snacks; dice, top with a crumb topping made of flour, sweetener, and butter, bake for a few minutes; grate apples and put the in muffins or pancake batter, dice apples and add to add to oatmeal or granola, have the fruit in salads, slice the lime very thin, freeze it on cookie sheets, store in covered container in freezer and add a slice to your water when you feel deprived. Slice the lime very thing, string it in a line of a thread, and hang it up in your kitchen to look pretty, smell nice, and cheer you.  It was 20 cents. If it’s only you and a small child and the two of you can’t eat 3 or 4 pounds of fruit (really?  My kids are SUCH fruit fiends)- go in with a friend- you get apples, she buys oranges, split the bags so you both get some of each.  Or simmer the apples in a very tiny bit of water or orange juice and then freeze for pancake toppings, cobblers, yogurt mixings, or….?
With the Pork:
Orange glazed pork chops
Thai Style Pork Noodle Toss– use any noodles, even Ramen.  Use any oil or fat, not just the sesame or olive oil suggested.
Make a paisano
Have roasted winter vegetables with diced pork, including diced pumpkin from your jack-o-lantern if you had one.
Save the bones.  Add them to the beans when you cook them to add some extra flavor (and nourishment)

With the Potatoes:
Potato pancakes (really good with applesauce, which you can make with the apples)
Colcannon and soup
Hash Browns
Dice them and fry them with onions, a bit of cheese, and bits of leftover meat if you have any.

With the hamburger:
Hamburger Creole
in fried rice
One pan dandy (a super fast recipe)


Make corn tortilla wraps and fill them with meat cooked all day in the crockpot, or serve with soups, or fill with lettuce, sprouts, tomatoes and a bit of cheese, or fill with cooked beans mixed with onions and bits of leftover meat.

When you dice an onion, you might as well dice a bunch, and freeze the rest (put on a baking sheet or any flat surface, a flat bit of cardboard torn from the side of a box works, freeze, when solid, put in a covered container and keep in the freezer, taking out what you need for soups, stews, and skillet meals.  not so great in meals where the onion is supposed to be kind of raw.
Same for celery.

Here are some other tips on drastic, really drastic, budgeting in the kitchen.

A reminder- 1 in 7 Americans are on Food Stamps.  In 2008, it was 1 in 11.
The average food stamp award is for 4.50 dollars a day per person.  That’s average. That means some get much less, and some get much more.
Food stamps are intended to be supplemental, not your entire food budget.

Posted in frugal | 1 Response