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Grilled Black Bean Quesadillas

We enjoy quesadillas at our house. We like to change it up a little so a few years ago we tried grilling them. We really enjoyed the results. They do get crispier with a slightly different texture but it also gives them a smokey taste.

I made a black bean version last night for dinner. Since it was a bean recipe I decided to add another recipe to Jen’s Bean Week at frugalupstate. This recipe is quick and simple. You can change it up depending on your tastes. You can easily cook this like you would normally cook a quesadilla.

Black Bean Quesadillas

Simple Is Sometimes Best

Last night for dinner we had something simple. I grilled boneless skinless chicken breast and brushed them with barbeque sauce. I made some 40 minute rolls to use as buns and we had chicken sandwiches. I served it with lettuce and tomatoes. We also had salad and canteloupe.

Usually when I grill chicken I use a marinade with all kinds of ingredients. I like to change things up and try new recipes. I do this with most of the things I cook. Today though, I needed to make a quick and easy dinner, so I chose just to brush barbecue sauce on them. I have done this before but it has been a while.

I guess I need to make these more often. All three of my kids told me it was sooooo good. They all said we need to have it more often. Even my husband said how good it was. So I sat there wondering why I usually go to all the trouble of making fancier things when they are happy with simplicity.

They do like most of the meals I prepare. I just found it odd that they complimented this meal more than any other recently and this was one of the easiest meals I have fixed recently.

So sometimes simple is best!

Favorite Tool-Grill

My favorite tool for this week is the grill. I think a lot of people would say they really like their grill. Where we live, we can grill about nine months or more out of the year. But this time of year, when it is hot, we use it a lot. We cook on it at least twice a week, sometimes more. The main reason we use it, is so that we do not have to heat up the house by using the oven.

I like to grill a lot of chicken at once and then use the chicken in different ways. We use it for salads, sandwiches, in pasta, on pizza, and more. It is a good way to cook once but use the meat for several days. We also cook hamburgers, hotdogs, grilled vegetables, and even pizza on it.

I know in a lot of families, the husband grills. In our home I do most of the grilling. The main reason for this is that I like to have dinner ready when my husband gets home. He works long hours and I feel bad asking him to grill something when he gets home. I figure the last thing he wants to do after working all day is to stand by the grill and cook dinner. It seems much better to me, if I grill and then dinner is ready when he gets home. But that is just what works for us. I know a lot of woman who won’t go near a grill. I actually enjoy it. It is a change of pace from my normal cooking.

So, do you use your grill a lot?

For more great tool ideas see lifeasmom.

Black Bean Burgers

I started making black bean burgers quite a few years ago when we were living on a very tight budget. They are cheap to make because they are meatless. I continue to make them because they are frugal but also because they are healthy, quick and easy, and good.

Buying Rice

Has anyone else noticed the price of rice lately? Like everything else, it is going up in price. Rice is still a frugal thing to cook but not as frugal as it used to be.
We eat a lot of rice. My husband really enjoys rice. He will eat the brown rice but he prefers me to fix the white rice. I like the flavor of brown rice, I prefer it over white rice. But I cook mainly to please my husband so white rice is usually what we eat.

We do enjoy some of the more specialty rices. We like Jasmine, short grain, and occasionally sweet rice. Those varieties are what tend to be more expensive though.

When we were first married and my husband was in college, money was tight, very tight. There was an Asian type market not far from the apartment we lived in. I discovered that rice was much cheaper at this store then the regular grocery stores. You could also get the speciality rices for a good price. You had to buy in bulk in order to get the best deals but we did not mind. I would buy ten pounds or so and then store it in airtight containers. Actually, we were eating so much rice ten pounds did not last long. One of our very frugal meals was soft boiled eggs over rice with a little soy sauce on top. Not fancy but very cheap (short grain rice works best for this).

When we moved to where we live now, I got away from shopping at an Asian market. Mainly for convenience. There was not one very close or in an area I go to very often, but with the price of rice going up so much I decided to try it out again. I am glad I did.

We went last week to see what we could find. I had to buy in bulk to get the best deal but again I did not mind. We now have three kids so we will use it up. I bought a 25# bag of Jasmine Rice for 17.99 and a 5# bag of brown rice for $4.99. This is a good deal in my part of the country. Prices may vary where you are. You may be able to find better deals. I filled up jars with the rice and placed the rest in the freezer. I do this because I have the freezer space and it also helps the brown rice to last longer.

The other thing I found was this coconut milk.

We use it to make Jasmine Rice for breakfast. I usually pay $1.40 at Wal-mart. At the Asian store I got two different brands to try. One was $0.89 and the other was $1.09. So the coconut milk alone saved me money. I saw all kinds of soy sauces and other special seasonings but I tried to stay focused on what I came to the store for. Next time I am going to compare prices a little more.

We also like going to the Mexican supermarket to get hot sauces and salsas. My husband loves spicy dishes. The hotter the better. He puts hot sauce on just about anything. We have found the Mexican stores to have good prices on these items. They also carry ones that you cannot find at your normal store.

So my frugal tip is check out your Asian and Mexican markets. You may be able to save some money. For more frugal ideas see Frugal Fridays.

Frosted Banana Bars

Frosted Banana Bars is a simple and delicious dessert to make and a great way to use up overripe bananas.

Banana Bars

We eat a lot of bananas around our house. My kids really like them. One of my daughters thinks she could live on bananas and carrots alone. Even though we all enjoy them there seems to always be one or two that end up being a little too ripe to eat.

My husband actually prefers overripe bananas, but he does not always eat them up. I however like mine on the green side. I am one of those people that feels like bananas are good for about one day, because there is a fine line between too green and too ripe.

Banana Bars

I make a lot of banana bread and muffins, but we get tired of always having those too things. Smoothies are also a great use of bananas, but I think dessert is my favorite way to use them!

If a dessert has bananas in it, it is healthy, right? Okay, so this is not healthy, nor is it low fat, but if you like bananas give these bars a try.

Even if you don’t like bananas you may like this recipe, this frosting will make almost anything taste good. These bars are good without the frosting, but why would you want to leave it off. Maybe it would make them slightly healthier, but it is not nearly as good. 🙂

This frosting recipe is one of my favorite frosting recipes. It is good on most cakes. It makes a boxed cake seem homemade. It is really good on carrot or zucchini cake. If nothing else try the frosting recipe. You won’t be buying the canned stuff anymore.

And I have a gluten free version of these banana bars so if you are gluten free be sure to check out my gluten free banana bars. I have also heard from readers that Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 blend works great in this recipe. So that is another option for those of you that are gluten free.

Banana Bars

Adapted from Taste of Home

Pesto

I have a large basil plant growing in my garden. Having fresh herbs is great. This year I only have basil but it is doing so good it is making up for not having any other herbs.

One of the things I like to use my basil in, is pesto. We love pesto. It is so easy to make and it so flavorful. Most pesto recipes call for pine nuts. I like mine with walnuts though. I just like the flavor better. I also usually have some walnuts in the freezer, pine nuts are not something I keep on hand. I use my food processor to make this but I think a blender would work also. Last night I added some leftover cooked chicken that I had.
So here is the pesto version we like.

Pepperoni

We like pizza at our house. We usually make homemade pizza at least twice a month. I have posted my favorite pizza crust recipe. It came from Taste Of Home back around 1994. (I turned it into a whole wheat version) My husband’s favorite topping for pizza is pepperoni, but it is usually so greasy. I have tried the turkey pepperoni but we did not like it as well. Several years ago I saw a tip in a cooking magazine that has helped me so much in fixing pepperoni pizza. It helps make it less greasy.

Place a paper towel on a microwavable plate. Place a layer of pepperoni on the paper towel.

Place another paper towel on top and place another layer of pepperoni on it.

Cover with another paper towel. Microwave for 30 to 45 seconds.

You will then have this.

Most of the grease will be on the paper towels and not on the pepperoni. Now you have perfect pepperoni for pizza.

I guess for those of you who do not use paper towels this won’t work. I have yet to give up my paper towels though . 🙂

For more kitchen tips see Tammy’s Recipes.

Tuna Burgers

This is a great frugal meal. It is quick and easy. It says it serves four. We have a family of five and I usually double it and make six burgers. This recipe came from a Taste Of Home magazine from 1993 or 1994. I just love the old Taste Of Home recipes. For more frugal tuna recipes see frugalupstate.

I usually like to post pictures with my recipes but I don’t have one of these. Sorry 🙁

Father’s Day

I posted this on Sunday for Father’s Day. I decided to link to it for GratitTuesday. I am very thankful for all my dad taught me.

In honor of Father’s Day, I wanted to talk about my dad.

My dad has taught me so much. One of the most important things he taught me growing up was the value of hard work and money. We had very little growing up. We did not have a closet full of clothes or a room full of toys. We did not have fancy cars or designer things. The fact that we did not have these things was not out of choice, it was out of necessity.

There were many times that our family struggled to survive financially. My dad worked hard to provide for us, but times were tough. He has always done construction work, and there were times when there was just no construction work. Did he just sit around and do nothing, taking handouts from the government? NO! He did whatever it took to provide for his family. He found work doing whatever he could. He logged. He split wood. He worked making wood shingles for roofing.

I even remember several times he picked mushrooms to pay the electric bill. And let me tell you, mushroom picking is no fun for very little pay. My sister and I picked mushrooms with him. It was one of the worst jobs I ever had. We are not talking about picking them on a mushroom farm of some sort. We trampled through damp, cold forests in Oregon looking for them. We would spend hours and only come out with a few pounds, but he did it to provide for us. And I never remember him complaining. He did what it took to provide for us. He never just sat around doing nothing. He worked and worked to supply our needs.

When he did have work in the construction field, it was not a glamorous job. He worked hard in the summer heat and cold winter snow and rain doing very physical work. We lived in a very small town in the middle of nowhere. There was little work where we lived, so for many, many years he drove one hour each way to work. He still does. He wanted to raise us in the country, and he sacrificed for it.

When I was young, I think only eight or nine, I picked strawberries for a summer job. Also, not a very glamorous job, but we would pick berries to pay for school clothes. I did this until I was about 13. At the time I hated it. I though it was terrible that I had to spend four weeks of my summer in the berry fields, but in doing this my dad was teaching us the value of work. He was teaching us that we needed to work for the things we wanted. He would provide the basics, but if we wanted beyond that we had to work for it. Few kids now know this concept. We live in a time in the US where very few kids would even think of entering a strawberry field to pick berries to buy clothes. No this was not child abuse, it was teaching me that life involved work. Things are not handed to you. I will be forever grateful my dad taught me this.

He also taught me how to save money. As soon as I started picking strawberries, he taught me to save it. We had to tithe 10% and then 45% went into a savings account, and 45% we could spend. We usually bought clothes with the spending money. This was not a choice, this is what we were required to do. When I was young I thought this was terrible. I worked for the money. I thought I should be able to spend it. Once again my dad knew he was teaching me something important. He was teaching me the value of money. Because he taught me the importance of saving, I paid cash for my first car at age 18. It was not a nice car, but I was able to buy it with cash using the money I had saved from all the years of strawberry picking and babysitting. My dad knew the importance of teaching me about money.

I am now raising three kids of my own. The Lord has provided me with a lifestyle I never dreamed I would have. I lack for nothing. I am now realizing that I had so much more growing up then I ever realized as a child. Having lots of “stuff” is not what is important. You see things so differently as an adult. I would not change my childhood. I am glad we struggled for money. I am glad my dad made me start working at a young age. Being taught to work hard and save money has helped me become who I am today. I need to remember this more often.

I could go on and on about all the things my dad taught me, but I think how to hard work and the value of money were two of the most important things he instilled in me. So thanks Dad, for all the years of working hard to provide for us! Thank you for setting the example of how to work hard and save money. I only hope I can pass some of what you taught me on to my own children.

And Dad, I am bringing you the Aldi’s Chocolate Bars with Hazelnuts in them when I visit next month. HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!!!

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