The Poorman's Meal #Sponsored by OXO

A few weeks ago I talked about how to regrow green onions using nothing but leftover onions, a glass, and some water. It's a great way to stretch things a little further in kitchen and hardly requires any work at all. Today I thought it was time for my next tip: how to reduce kitchen waste, especially from produce that isn't being used up quickly enough.

Let's face it, we've all been there. Sometimes you have an over abundance of food from the garden or a recent shopping trip and sometimes you just plain forgot you had something and it's starting to look a little sorry. I frequently find myself in this situation, so every other week I make a dish I've always known as The Poorman's Meal. I'm sure it has a billion and one other names, but that's what I've always known it as, so we'll just keep the name for now (even though it's probably not politically correct.)

This dish consists of whatever odds and ends I have on hand that are starting to get old. In our case it's usually some really wrinkly bell peppers, onions and potatoes that have started sprouting, and the last sausage in the package that I've forgotten to use up. The nice thing about this meal is that there is no recipe. I've seen it made with green beans and bacon instead of sausage and peppers, you just toss whatever leftovers you have in a skillet, cook them up, and season it with a little salt, pepper, and garlic. This meal couldn't possibly be easier and it's a great way to reduce your kitchen waste while spending only a trivial amount of time actually cooking. 

Don't forget to keep reading after the recipe for a quick review of a great tool from OXO that will help you on your quest to reduce waste in your kitchen. 

Want more tips for using up your leftovers? Make sure to check out our posts for Southern-Style Sawmill Sausage Gravy (to use up expired milk) and Banana Split Bread (for brown bananas.)

DISCLOSURE:  Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of Chef’s Mandoline Slicer 2.0 Campaign, through the blogger outreach program. They have provided me with a mandoline for evaluation, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

DISCLOSURE: Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of Chef’s Mandoline Slicer 2.0 Campaign, through the blogger outreach program. They have provided me with a mandoline for evaluation, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

The Poorman's Meal
makes approximately 3 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon salted butter
1 large potato, cut into ¼ inch thick slices
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
6 - 8 ounces sausage (I use Andouille)
sea salt, black pepper, and garlic, to taste

Directions

  • In a saucepan melt butter. Add sliced potato, bell pepper, onion, and sausage. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, flip the potatoes so they brown on both sides, then cook for an additional 10 - 15 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Season with sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder before serving.

Notes

If you find you're out of one of the ingredients listed, try substituting the missing ingredient for something you do have. I've seen this made in a number of different ways and it's always been tasty. If you want a real treat, trying making it with maple sausage links instead of the andouille, fry or scramble some eggs, then serve it as breakfast for dinner. This is one of those meals that's tasty any time of the day.

OXO Chef's Mandoline 2.0 | Not Starving Yet

Review

 

OXO Good Grips Chef's Mandoline Slicer 2.0:

When I talk about reducing waste in the kitchen the first thing that springs to mind for most people is food waste. The simple truth is this: most people toss a good portion of the groceries they purchase each week. Often times it's leftovers that have gone uneaten or produce that has spoiled before it could be used. This translates into a lot of money that goes straight into the landfill. This wasted food and money is one of the reasons I make sure to incorporate dishes like the poor mans's meal into our menu rotation frequently—it cuts down on one form of the waste I frequently see in our kitchen.

Now I want to give you a little food for thought—food isn't the only thing that people waste when they're cooking. Time is another thing that is frequently wasted, but it's not something most people stop to consider.

If you're anything like me then you've probably wasted plenty of time standing at the fridge wondering what to cook. You've also likely wasted time searching for missing ingredients in your disorganized pantry or making last-minute trips to the store because you've discovered half way through a recipe you're missing a key ingredient. Anyone who has cooked a meal has been there, but what you may not realize is that you've also been wasting time by using tools that aren't quite up to the job at hand. This may sound like common sense, but having the right tool for the job can save a lot of time and that extra 15 minutes you save by using a more efficient tool can make the difference between a home cooked meal and ordering takeout for the third night in a row because you're too tired to cook.

That said, I've actually been a naysayer when it comes to using some of these time-saving tools in my kitchen. I don't have a large kitchen, so every tool I own needs to be a multi-tasker and it needs to perform well. To date I've not had a good experience with using a mandoline as the one I've own for years is a bit of a heath-hazard. The blade is always falling out and at one point took a huge chunk out of my hand that resulted in a trip to urgent care. Early in our marriage my poor husband came home to an unlocked apartment with a trail of blood leading clear across it, then discovered I was no where to be found. I was at urgent care receiving nearly 15 stitches while he wondered how an axe murdered got into the apartment.

After that I tucked the mandoline away and went back to using a knife, which works well for most tasks, but it's not always the most efficient way to cut up a huge pile of potatoes or vegetables (especially if you want them thinly and evenly sliced.) 

When OXO offered to send me the new version of their chef's mandoline I was curious to see how it differed from the model I had from their competition. The first change I noticed is that the blades are permanently stored in the mandoline, you'll still need to slide them out to adjust the type of cut you want, straight or crinkle, but they're locked in to place firmly and won't fall out. Even fine-tuning the thickness of your slices is simple—there's a red slider bar that adjusts in 0.5-mm intervals allowing a paper thin cut or something thicker like I used for today's recipe. You can even make julienne, waffle, and French fry cuts with the turn of a knob. The easy adjustment knob and the blades that stay put solved the two biggest pet peeves I had when using a mandoline. It was incredibly easy to set the thickness I want and produce a pile of potatoes that were uniform in size and therefore cooked evenly.

A mandoline may not be for everyone, but there are certain times when using one is much faster—especially if you have a huge pile of potatoes, zucchini, squash, or onions that you need to cut into uniform slices. If you find yourself performing this task on a regular basis, then it's definitely a time saving tool you may want to consider for your kitchen. 

Where to Purchase


OXO Good Grips Chef's Mandoline Slicer 2.0: Find it on Amazon or purchase it directly from OXO

Disclosure


This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

Today's post was sponsored by OXO as part of the Chef’s Mandoline Slicer 2.0 Campaign through the blogger outreach program. They have provided me with a mandoline for evaluation, but no other compensation was given for this post. 

Cherry Almond Preserves with No Added Pectin

Cherry season is incredibly short—lasting only a matter of days—so I'll often find myself with gallon bags full of sour pie cherries that need to be pitted, washed, and processed in a short amount of time. Some years it can be a daunting task to turn all of these beauties into something delicious, so I've worked hard to develop a lazy person's recipe for preserves that has a great consistency, yet doesn't need any special equipment or added pectin. Just a small handful of ingredients and a little bit of time is all you need to produce a tasty preserve that can be put up and enjoyed over winter or eaten immediately on a slice of crusty bread slathered in butter. 

Cherry Almond Preserves with No Added Pectin | Not Starving Yet

Cherry Almond Preserves

(makes 1 pint or 2 half pints)
 


 

Ingredients


3 cups sour cherries (or slightly less than 1 pound)
1 cup sugar + additional ¼ - ½ cup, as necessary
1 Tablespoon pure almond extract
 

Directions

  • Remove the pits from the cherries, add them to a large saucepan, and combine with 1 cup sugar. Let sit for at least twenty minutes while the cherries macerate, or release their juices.
  • Over medium-high heat bring the contents of the pot to a boil and allow to cook until the mixture has reduced roughly by ⅓. Take a quick taste and if the preserves still make you pucker add an additional ¼ cup of sugar, or more to taste.

You can leave a wooden spoon in your pot or pan while your preserves are cooking to prevent them from boiling over.

  • Add almond extract, then continue to boil the preserves taking care to stir frequently, until the contents of the pot have begun to thicken. 

Total cooking time varies greatly depending on the size of you pot (anywhere from 20 - 45 minutes) so you'll need to keep a close eye on your preserves while they're cooking.

  • There are a number of methods you can use to tell when your preserves are done cooking. By far the easiest is to take a spoon, dip it in the preserves, and let the liquid run off the spoon. If it immediately drips back in to the pot, you need to keep cooking, but if it puddles at the tip and drips off in a heavy sheet, your safe to turn the heat off. If you're still not quite sure they're done, you can remove your preserves from the heat, place a small amount of syrup on a plate and put it in the fridge to chill. It should form a gel after a few minutes, if it doesn't turn the heat back up and continue boiling your preserves.

It is possible to burn your preserves, so if you're still uncertain after performing these two tests, go ahead and turn off the heat. If your preserves fail to gel after cooling you can always use them on top of a fat stack of pancakes.

  • Allow the preserves to cool slightly before transferring them into a pint jar. Wipe the rim clean, seal, and once cool store in the refrigerator.

Notes


You can use a cherry pitter if you have one, but for small batches of cherries a paperclip, chopstick, or even your hands work just as well. Keep in mind that pitting cherries is a messy process, so wear something dark colored or a shirt you don't mind getting stained.

It's perfectly normal for the preserves to foam while boiling, once they're removed from the heat you'll find the foam dissipates relatively quickly, so there is no need to skim it off the top.

This recipe is safe to can using a water bath, but for such a small batch I don't normally bother. If you'd like to make more than a pint and put some up for later you can use the canning instructions I've included with our recipe for Sweet Cherry and Peach Preserves.

Pumpkin Bread with Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pepitas

Last year after the holidays I came across a great clearance deal—organic pumpkin was only $1 per can. I didn't know what I would do with it all, but I snapped up as much as possible since it didn't expire until sometime in 2017. Surely I could find a way to use 40 cans of pumpkin by then. It wasn't until a few weeks later I discovered that only half of my cans were actually pumpkin, the other half were pumpkin pie mix.

Talk about a major doh! moment.

I only make 1 pumpkin pie a year, what in the world was I going to do with 20 cans of pumpkin pie mix? I was pretty sure I couldn't be the only person on Earth to make this mistake, the cans for pumpkin and pumpkin pie mix look almost identical, so I turned to my trusty friend Google for answers. It turns out that there really aren't that many recipes out there that call for pumpkin pie mix.

I'm sure that comes as a total shock to you, doesn't it?

Not to be deterred I decided to follow someone's suggestion to make pumpkin bread out of it and it turned out fabulous. So, if you ever find yourself with a random can of pumpkin pie mix you now know what to do with it. Then again you could run out and buy one just to make this recipe—it's pretty tasty with a cup of chai or coffee.

Pumpkin Bread with Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pepitas

Pumpkin Bread with Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pepitas
makes 3 mini loaves
 

Ingredients


for the bread

½ cups white sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
15 ounce can pumpkin pie mix (not canned pumpkin)
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

optional

pumpkin pie spiced pepitas
 

Directions

 

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl combine sugar, unsalted butter, eggs, and pumpkin pie mix. Mix until well-combined, then add all-purpose flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir until the dry ingredients are throughly incorporated, pour into loaf pan, and top with pumpkin pie spiced pepitas.
  • Bake for 35 - 40 minutes in a preheated oven. Loaves are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes away clean.

Notes

 

Mini loaf pan sizes vary quite a bit, which means baking time will vary as well. I used 7"x2.5"x1.8" paper loaf pans for this recipe. If you use a different size pan or one made of metal you may need to adjust your baking time. 

Can't find paper loaf pans? You can purchase them on Amazon, but I found mine at Home Goods for a little bit less.

Disclosure


This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

 

Microwave Scrambled Eggs #Unprocessed

Most of my days start off the same way—with a strong cup of something highly caffeinated and Icelandic-style yogurt topped with homemade granola. I rely on the jolt of caffeine and sugar to get me going and chase off the black cloud that hangs over my head early in the day. I am not a morning person, a fact I've mentioned numerous times, and just to be safe you're best off not talking to me before noon.

You have been warned.

I realize this isn't the healthiest way to start my day, so one of my goals this month has been to diversify my breakfast choices. My goal is to eat less sugar, more protein, and perhaps toss the occasional veggie in there for good measure. I was wracking my brain for easy ideas when I realized I was overthinking the matter. All I needed to do is go back to the beginning, one of the first things my mother taught me how to cook was microwave scrambled eggs. It's the perfect meal for anyone unable to start the day off gracefully (or in my case, isn't inclined to start the day at all.)

Does my mother know me well or what?

This recipe is so simple I never thought to share it with you before, but a few recent conversations made me change my mind. I was operating under the assumption that most people relied on microwave scrambled eggs to eat a cheap and healthy meal when they were pressed for time. It's been a staple in my household for years, but after talking to my house guests over Labor Day I realized that most of my friends likely survived their late nights of "studying" by skipping breakfast or chowing down on cereal as they ran out the door. They didn't know you could make perfectly fluffy scrambled eggs in the microwave in under 2 minutes.

I guess they didn't grow up with a Microwave Mama like I did (hi mom!) 

We've teased my mom endlessly over the years about her love of the microwave, but her cooking methods only reinforced that it was possible to have a nutritious meal on the table without having to resort to a heat and eat box. This is a lesson I took to heart, even if I did spend many a morning eating cold pizza as I scrambled out the door (don't judge, it was college after all, and I do love pizza.) 

This recipe may be simple, but it's proof that eating a healthy, unprocessed breakfast doesn't need to be time consuming. It's also a great recipe to use with children of all ages. I've never met a kid that didn't love to crack eggs or take over the tedious task of stirring. These days my pre-schooler wakes up wanting to make his mama breakfast, which brings a smile to my face every single time.

Microwave Scrambled Eggs | Not Starving Yet

Microwave Scrambled Eggs
makes 1 serving

Ingredients

2-3 large eggs
2 tablespoons smoked gouda, shredded
top with fresh chives, salt, and pepper, to taste

variations to try

Florentine: Spinach, green onion, and fire roasted tomatoes
Southwest: black beans, bell pepper, sweet corn, and pepper jack
Italian: Italian sausage, fire roasted tomatoes, and mozzarella
Farmer's: Ham, bacon, sausage, and cheddar
Irish: Hash browns, corned beef, and swiss cheese
Lazy: Skip the chives and use Penzey's Fox Point Seasoning instead

Directions

  • In a microwave safe mug or bowl, add all of the ingredients, then give everything a good stir. Be careful not to overfill the mug, the eggs will double in size and can run over the top.
  • Microwave uncovered for 30 seconds. Stir ingredients, then continue to cook in 30 second increments until eggs are fully cooked. Keep in mind that cooking time can vary widely from mug to mug. It's best to keep a close eye on these the first few times you make them.
  • Top with chives, salt, and pepper before serving. Enjoy!

Notes

If you decide to try out some of the variations, keep in mind that you'll want to pre-cook ingredients like bacon or sausage before adding it to the eggs as it may not cook fully in the microwave. 

Instead of using a coffee mug or bowl I prefer to use This Soup Dish from Good Cook. The handle doesn't heat up even after two minutes in the microwave. You can pick up the red dish on Amazon, or check your local grocery store where you'll likely find them in a variety of colors (I have them in black, blue, and purple.)

Disclosure

This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links provide me with a small income and ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.